Brookline Town Meeting member Amy Hummel today introduced a by-law banning municipal government use of face surveillance technology.

Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, released the following statement in response:

"People should be able to walk around Brookline without worrying that government agencies are keeping tabs on their every movement. For too long, face surveillance technology has gone unregulated, posing a serious threat to our basic civil rights and civil liberties. In the absence of state or national action, municipal governments have taken the first steps towards sensible policy. We are grateful for Brookline’s leadership to bring this technology under democratic control.”

Town Meeting member Amy Hummel said:

"Face surveillance technology poses unprecedented threats to civil liberties. This warrant article gives Brookline Town Meeting the opportunity to take action and protect fundamental rights."

Background:

The ACLU of Massachusetts recently launched “Press Pause on Face Surveillance,” a new campaign to build awareness about the civil liberties concerns posed by face surveillance technology and the need to pass a statewide moratorium on the government’s use of the technology.

An ACLU poll shows 91 percent (91%) of Massachusetts voters think the Commonwealth needs to regulate the government’s ongoing use of face surveillance technology. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of voters support a moratorium to press pause on government use of face surveillance technology, which is currently unregulated in Massachusetts.

An ACLU-backed bill currently before Massachusetts legislators on Beacon Hill would establish a statewide moratorium on government use of face surveillance and other biometric screening technologies until the legislature imposes checks and balances to protect the public’s interest. According to the poll, the moratorium enjoys wide bipartisan voter support: Eighty-four percent (84%) of Democrats, 82 percent (82%) of Independents, and 50 percent (50%) of Republicans favor the moratorium currently before Massachusetts legislators.

In June, Somerville became the first community on the East Coast to prohibit government use of face recognition surveillance technology. In July, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern introduced an ordinance banning city government use of face surveillance technology, joining a growing nationwide movement to bring the technology under democratic control.

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