Baltimore Moves to (Mostly) Ban Facial Recognition Technology

The Baltimore City Council passed legislation to ban the use of facial recognition technology by public and private users – with an exception for the Baltimore City police, technically a state agency not under City control.

The local bill, introduced in January and subject to public input and multiple work sessions since, has been adopted and sent to the Mayor for final approval. City agencies, and private companies, would be barred from using a specified list of technologies, with debate focusing on their unclear effectiveness and potential for discrimination.

See bill details from the Baltimore City Council website.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, would bar the use of the technology by residents, businesses and most of city government until December 2022. However, Baltimore police, who use such technology via the Maryland Image Repository System, would be exempt; the City Council doesn’t have legal authority over the department, as it’s technically a state agency.

The matter of self-governance of the City police department will be placed as a ballot question for City voters to determine, as a result of police reform legislation enacted during the 2021 session of the General Assembly.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties