Massachusetts lawmakers hear testimony on a bill that would call for a moratorium on government use of facial recognition technology. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
The bill's sponsor, State Sen. Cynthia Creem, said the technology is currently unregulated in Massachusetts. She testified that she wants to make sure the legislature puts checks and balances in place to protect the public's interest.
"Facial recognition technology is technology that allows you and large groups of people to be secretly surveiled, identified, and tracked," said Creem. "The government is using it without your consent."
Kade Crockford, Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts' Technology for Liberty Program, said there are some real problems with the technology as it currently stands.
"Technology companies are putting tremendous pressure on our local governments to adopt technologies that may make serious mistakes, particularly on women and people of color," Crockford said. "No one is minding the house here. This technology poses a profound and unprecedented threat to civil rights and civil liberties. In places like China, governments are already using this technology to conduct mass surveillance, tracking every person's public movements."
Creem said it isn't just China where this is happening—it's happening right here at home.
"There is no law to keep this technology from being used to monitor political protesters or even children in our public schools," she said. "Big Sister, watching you without your permission."
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports