Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has returned a police reform bill to state lawmakers calling on lawmakers to remove several provisions – including one to ban law enforcement and agencies nationwide using facial recognition technology, the first of its kind in the United States UNITED STATES.
The law, which also banned police from using rubber bullets and tear gas, was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on Dec. 1 after senior lawmakers broke months of blockade to reach consensus. Legislature brought the bill to state assembly after the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer and later charged with murder.
Baker said in a letter to lawmakers that he is protesting the ban and that the use of facial recognition will help convict several criminals, including a sex offender and a double murderer.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Baker said that he "will not sign anything that forbids facial recognition".
The law would prohibit police and government agencies across the state from using facial recognition, with one exception to conduct facial recognition searches with an arrest warrant against the state's driver's license database. The state would have to publish annual transparency figures on the number of future searches by officials.
Massachusetts House voted 92-67 and the Senate voted 28-12 – neither of which was a veto-proof majority.
The Boston Globe said Baker did not directly say he would veto the bill. After lawmakers return a revised (or the same) version of the bill to the governor, it is up to Baker to sign it, veto it, or – under Massachusetts law – allow it to go into law without his signature by Waiting 10 days.
“The unchecked use of surveillance technology by the police also undermines everyone's right to anonymity, privacy and freedom of expression. We urge lawmakers to reject Governor Baker's amendment and ensure the adoption of general rules governing the use of face surveillance by the government, ”said Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts ACLU.
A spokesman for Baker's office did not immediately return a request for comment.