New York State Lawmaker Unveils New Facial Recognition Bill

New York could ban the use of facial recognition technology by police under a proposed bill unveiled Monday by state Senator Brad Hoylman.

“The continuous use of this technology for broad, untargeted surveillance purposes constitutes an unacceptable mass violation of privacy and could chill New Yorkers' right to free speech and freedom of assembly,” states the proposed bill. 

The new proposal comes one week after The New York Times reported that the startup Clearview AI scraped billions of publicly available photos from sites including Facebook and Twitter, used facial recognition technology to create a database of faceprints, and then sold that database to police departments.

Since that article came out, Clearview has drawn widespread criticism. Twitter reportedly demanded that Clearview stop scraping the site for photos, an Illinois resident brought a class-action privacy complaint against the start-up, and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) sent the company a list of questions about its technology. New Jersey's attorney general also reportedly told state prosecutors to stop using the company's program.



The measure sponsored by Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan, would prohibit law enforcement authorites from purchasing, possession or using any facial recognition technology sytem.

Four cities -- San Francisco and Oakland, California, and Brookline and Somerville, Massachusetts -- have already prohibited the police from using facial recognition software. Portland, Oregon is currently considering a similar prohibition.

While Hoylman's new bill would specifically restrict law enforcement, the lawmaker previously introduced a law that would have prohibited landlords from using facial recognition technology in residential buildings. That effort stalled last year.

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