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Portland, Maine has voted to ban facial recognition

Portland, Maine has voted to ban facial recognition


Private citizens are entitled to a minimum of $1,000 in fines if they are subjected to a facial recognition scan by police

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A series of wireframe faces.
Illustration by Alex Castro / Th

Portland, Maine has passed a ballot initiative banning the use of facial recognition by police and city agencies. The Bangor Daily News is reporting that voters have passed a ballot initiative bolstering a ban on facial recognition by city agencies.

The initiative follows a city council vote in August, which put a preliminary ban in place as an ordinance. Today’s vote replaces that ordinance with a stronger measure, which cannot be revoked for at least five years.

The ordinance was placed on the ballot earlier this year by the Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, as part of a raft of other progressive initiatives including a $15 minimum wage and new limits on rent increases.

The new measure also adds concrete penalties, entitling private citizens to a minimum of $1,000 in civil fees if they are surveilled in violation of the ordinance. Violations of the ordinance are also established as grounds for terminating or suspending a city employee. Private sector use of the technology is not affected.

Portland is just the latest city to swear off the technology, following previous bans by Boston, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. In June, congressional Democrats introduced a bill that would institute a similar ban at the federal level, barring all federal law enforcement agencies from employing facial recognition.