BOSTON (WHDH) - Several local lawmakers and state officials said they wanted to push the pause button on using facial recognition software for law enforcement in Massachusetts during a hearing at the State House Tuesday.
The hearing came after several professional athletes in New England were wrongly matched with mugshots when the ACLU tried to use facial recognition to identify local sports stars. Of the 188 tested, 28 were mistakenly ID’d.
State Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, introduced a bill that would “put a pause” on using facial recognition for law enforcement in Massachusetts.
“It’s not ready for primetime, multiple studies have found facial recognition algorithms ineffective,” Creem said.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan also said she wants to “hold off” on using the technology, but not forever.
“Right now we really do not have regulations regarding how we could use it, and we need to do that and we need to do that soon,” Ryan said.
In June, Somerville became the first local city to outright ban law enforcement from using facial recognition software. At the hearing, Mayor Joe Curtatone told lawmakers the state should follow the city’s lead.
“The use of facial recognition could have a chilling effect on free speech if people feel they are constantly watched,” Curtatone said.
And Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins said she would not back technology that studies have shown is wrong 30 percent of the time, especially when identifying minorities.
“Facial recognition us a far cry from dan or finger prints. it does not pin point a specific individual with scientific accuracy rather biases are written into its code,” Rollins said.
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