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APA Pursues Clarity on Baltimore Biometrics Ordinance

BY: Alice P. Jacobsohn, Esq. | 10/18/21

The APA, jointly with the National Payroll Reporting Consortium (NPRC), contacted the Baltimore, Md., City Council on September 7, 2021, asking for help in clarifying Ordinance 21-0001, which broadly prohibits the use of facial recognition technology in Baltimore. Employers use biometric technology to improve safety and integrity in the workplace, including facial-recognition timeclocks.

Because the ordinance and exclusions are unclear and involve criminal penalties, including imprisonment, APA said, “it is urgent that lawmakers clarify the intent and application to private sector commercial systems that are in widespread use today.”

City Council Response

Baltimore Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett responded on September 8. He said, “the ‘exclusions’ in the referenced definitions section is there to indicate that the systems referenced are not prohibited from use by the private or public sector. Meaning—the system you are referring to should be OK to use, as we didn’t intend to ban the use of the technology for the uses referenced in your letter.”

The APA and NPRC asked Councilmember Burnett to publish his response in the form of guidance on an official city website.

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Alice P. Jacobsohn, Esq., is Director of Government Relations for the APA.