Privacy SOS

Cambridge to take up face surveillance ban

On Tuesday, July 30 Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern and Councilors Craig Kelley and Sumbul Siddiqui will introduce a measure to ban municipal government use of face surveillance technology. If the measure passes, Cambridge would become the second city in Massachusetts, after Somerville, to take the step. In June, San Francisco became the first city in the country to ban the technology in government hands, and Oakland is set to do the same.

If you are a Cambridge resident concerned about the spread of this dystopian technology, please email your support via public comment. Details below.

  • WHAT: Introduction of face surveillance ban (on government use) in Cambridge
  • WHERE: Cambridge City Hall, Council Chambers
  • WHEN: Tuesday, July 30, 5:30pm
  • WHO: Cambridge residents

Details: At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Mayor of Cambridge will introduce a measure to ban municipal government entities from using face surveillance technology and information derived from it. You can read the text of the ordinance here.

How you can help: Please submit written testimony to the council in support of the ban!You can submit written comments to the council by emailing council@cambridgema.gov, clerk@cambridgema.gov, and mayor@cambridgema.gov.

Face surveillance technology poses unprecedented threats to privacy, free speech, and racial and gender justice. Studies including those done in Cambridge at MIT have shown the technology is highly inaccurate when evaluating the faces of Black women, with inaccuracy rates of up to 35 percent for that demographic. The tech is dangerous when it doesn’t work, and it’s dangerous when it does. People should be able to walk around Cambridge, attend protests, seek medical treatment, and visit friends and family without worrying that government agencies are keeping track of their every movement.

You can’t leave your face at home, meaning this technology poses extreme risks to our privacy and security as individuals and as a community. We look forward to Cambridge passing this ordinance to join Somerville, San Francisco, and Oakland, to protect civil rights and racial justice for all.

© 2019 ACLU of Massachusetts.