In a vote of 9-0 on Tuesday, the King County Council passed a proposal that bans government use of facial recognition software. The ban does not include private groups or individuals.
Demographic biases and government surveillance were among some of the main concerns cited. Previous studies have found flaws in the technology’s accuracy when identifying certain minority groups, particularly Black and Asian faces.
“The use of facial recognition technology by government agencies poses distinct threats to our residents, including potential misidentification, bias, and the erosion of our civil liberties,” said Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the legislation’s prime sponsor, in a statement.
Several community organizations and advocacy groups have expressed concerns over the technology and supported the legislation. Many, including Jennifer Lee of ACLU Washington, are calling for a federal ban on government use.
King County is the first county in the nation to pass a ban on facial recognition technology. At 2.3 million people, it is also one of the largest jurisdictions to do so.