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APA Responds to New Biometric Privacy Law in Baltimore, Maryland

BY: Mike Linehan | 08/17/21

The APA Government Relations Task Force State and Local Topics Subcommittee contacted the city of Baltimore, Md., to seek clarification on a biometric ordinance, as well as to offer solutions to potential issues created by the ordinance.

Ordinance 21-0001, which was passed by the Baltimore City Council on June 14, 2021, takes aim at biometric surveillance technology by prohibiting its implementation except in specific cases within the city. The Baltimore ordinance specifically prohibits the use of facial recognition systems by private individuals or entities.

Biometrics in Payroll

Employers install biometric time clocks to create accurate and convenient systems to track hours worked while increasing employee and employer accountability. The utility of biometric systems in the payroll world does not stop there. Safekeeping of employee and company data is important, and the use of biometric systems, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, provides additional layers of security and denies access to sensitive systems to those who do not have the proper clearance.

APA’s Recommendations

The APA requested that the Baltimore Office of Legal Affairs publish guidance, such as frequently asked questions, for employers and other payroll professionals to consult when considering their exposure and compliance with the city ordinance. The APA recommended that the Baltimore City Office of Legal Affairs clarify the applicability of this new ordinance to existing systems in common use, such as a time clock and other control systems.

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Mike Linehan is the Assistant Manager of Government Relations for the APA.