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Council members asked to hold another work session before November to hear from civil rights organizations such as the ACLU and get more input from the Portland Police Bureau.

OPB - The City Council held a work session on Tuesday, Sept. 17.Portland has taken its first steps toward enacting a far-reaching ban on facial recognition technology, which would limit the use of the software by city agencies and private businesses.

The idea is still in its nascent stage. City commissioners held their first work session on the topic on Tuesday, Sept. 17. If implemented as currently envisioned by some commissioners, the ban would set a new national precedent and make Portland the first major city to limit the use of the software by the private sector.

"We need to take a strong stance that the automated surveillance state is not welcome in Portland," said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who is spearheading the ban with the assistance of Smart City PDX and Portland's Office of Equity and Human Rights.

Hardesty raised the same concerns surrounding the software as legislators in cities like San Francisco, Oakland and the Boston suburb of Somerville, all of which have recently banned the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies. The software is biased against women and people of color and the way the data is collected can be opaque and ripe for abuse, she said.

"These are matters of privacy, consent and civil rights," Hardesty told the Council.

But while other cities have stopped short of regulating the software's usage outside of city government, Hardesty said she "wants to make the exceptions as narrow as humanely possible."

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story here.


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