BOSTON (WWLP) – A briefing was held at the Boston State House about facial recognition on Thursday.

Technology advances every day and with that can come many unforeseen consequences. A briefing on bills related to facial recognition took place and advocates spoke on the importance of regulating such technology.

Facial recognition has been a topic of discussion on Beacon Hill since 2019 when the legislature studied the best way to regulate the technology. The legislature ended up establishing standards in 2020 and created a commission to recommend further reforms.

In 2022, the commission released its recommendations which included the ability for police to use facial recognition only in serious crimes with a warrant, while at the same time creating guidelines to make sure civil rights and due process weren’t infringed upon.

This is because facial recognition algorithms have been found not only to be unreliable but that it exhibit racial and gender biases. A set of bills in the House and Senate would implement the commission’s findings.

“There have been many studies that have proven that this technology misidentifies people of darker skin, at a higher rate than people with lighter skin, and so it’s a technology that can become dangerous in the hands of law enforcement and so we want to make sure again that we’re regulating, regulating it so we’re not misidentifying people and putting them in a place where they don’t need to be in,”

Among the regulations found in the bills are guidelines that would centralize all facial recognition within the state police, prevent the technology from tracking people in daily life, and protect people from wrongful arrests through safeguards.

Now, the House passed legislation implementing the commission’s recommendations last session, but it never made its way to the Senate.

Local News

Ellen Fleming is a reporter at the Boston State House who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Ellen on X @EllenFlem and view her bio to see more of her work.