As part of its new police reform effort, Massachusetts lawmakers have passed one of the first state laws restricting law enforcement usage of facial recognition technologies, reports National Public Radio. Under the law, police must have a court order before they can compare mages to the database of photos and names held by the FBI, Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), or Massachusetts State Police. It also requires law enforcement to document their searches and eventually, make statistics on their searches public. The law attempts to find a middle ground between right to privacy concerns and law enforcement work, but it has attracted opposition from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker who threatened to veto an earlier version in December, declaring it “ignores the important role [facial recognition software[ can play in solving crime.”
Despite the new restrictions, nothing is stopping the FBI or state police from contracting with a private company, which local law enforcement would then have access to. The law comes during a time when state lawmakers across the country are putting limits on the use of the technology due to concerns over accuracy, racial bias and privacy. Some private companies, like Clearview AI, are being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for illegally stockpiling images of three billion people from internet sites without their permission. See also: Facial Recognition Software Fuels Growing Concerns in State Legislatures.