Monday, November 29, 2021

Port of Seattle permanently bans facial recognition

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The Seattle Port is Americas first port authority to officially limit the use of biometrics

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Together with any private sector organizations operating in its facilities, the Port of Seattle Commission has after a vote earlier today, decided to permanently prohibit the use of biometric technology, including face recognition for law enforcement, security and mass surveillance. The vote builds on a moratorium on new biometrics applications imposed by Commissioners in 2019 until policies could be reviewed and developed.

The Port of Seattle becomes first in the country to formally limit use of biometric technology. The new policies are the most stringent regulation of facial recognition by any government in Washington state. They apply to both private sector operators as well as government employees.

The Port will require that such technological use be fully voluntary, and comply with high standards of privacy, fairness and transparency. The Commission has decided to regulate the use of biometrics for customer service functions as well as the Port’s response to international federal port screening.

Commissioner Sam Cho states, “No one at a Port facility should fear that the Port or a private-sector tenant is secretly capturing their biometrics or tracking them with biometric technology.” He goes on to say, “Ports can and should take an active role in limiting and shaping the use of facial recognition technology.  We hope that other port authorities and governments will consider adopting the Port of Seattle model.”

The Commissioners also requested that the Port keep advocating for federal legislation that puts a moratorium on the use of federal government-facing biometrics except for those uses specifically authorized by the United States Congress. With this move, the Commission supports and endorses “The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act”.

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