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At least 23 dead in tornado-spawning storms sweeping central US, new report finds OR workforce grows, but gaps should be addressed; AM radio in every car? The debate hits Missouri; Proposal would make MI State Capitol a 'gun-free zone.'

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President Biden delivers a Memorial Day address, former president Trump's hush money trial is poised for jury deliberations, and the Justice Department warns of threats to election officials.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

MA Bill Would Tighten Restrictions on Facial Recognition Technology

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Monday, January 30, 2023   

Lawmakers in the Commonwealth are considering legislation to ensure police use of facial-recognition technology also protects people's privacy and civil rights.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to implement restrictions on the technology as part of a sweeping police reform law in 2020. A special legislative commission, which included police and civil liberties activists, then developed even greater restrictions on use of facial-recognition software.

Kade Crockford, Technology for Liberty program director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, called the latest bill a 'win,' both for police and the public.

"The police can use the technology to help them solve very serious crimes," Crockford pointed out. "And the public can benefit not only from that, but also from regulations that protect our basic privacy and civil rights at the same time."

The current bill would require police to obtain a warrant to perform a facial recognition search and ensure the results of the search alone cannot be used to arrest someone or obtain a search warrant.

Facial-recognition technology can be faulty and has resulted in the false arrests and incarceration of people across the country.

A federal study found the majority of algorithms are less accurate with Black, Asian and Native American faces, while other research finds some algorithms misidentify Black women nearly 35% of the time.

Crockford argued by passing the legislation, lawmakers can prevent those types of mistakes from happening here.

"Because if they do, it would make Massachusetts a leader, not only here in the United States, but really, worldwide," Crockford asserted.

The legislation passed the House last session, but failed to get a vote in the Senate. Crockford hopes former Attorney General, now Gov. Maura Healy's previous support of the bill will improve its chances this year.


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