On June 14, 2021, the Baltimore City Council passed a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition technology by private entities and individuals within the city limits. If signed into law, Baltimore, Maryland would become the latest U.S. city to enact stringent regulations governing the use of facial recognition technology in the private sector.
The ordinance would prohibit businesses and individuals from obtaining, retaining, accessing or using a “face surveillance system” or any information obtained from such a system. A “face surveillance system” is defined as any software or application that performs an automated or semi-automated process to assist in identifying or verifying an individual based on the physical characteristics of the individual’s face. Despite its broad scope, the ordinance would not apply to biometric security systems designed to protect against unauthorized access to a particular location or electronic device.
If enacted, in addition to imposing civil penalties of up to $1,000, any violation of the ordinance would be a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail.
The bill includes a sunset provision to automatically expire at the end of 2022, if Baltimore lawmakers do not vote to approve a five-year extension before it expires. The bill is awaiting signature by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.