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APA Pursues Further Answers on Baltimore Biometrics Restrictions

BY: Mike Linehan | 02/10/22

The APA Government Relations Task Force State and Local Topics Subcommittee, jointly with the National Payroll Reporting Consortium (NPRC), contacted the Baltimore, Maryland, City Council in January to follow up on a 2021 request to post the employer exception to Ordinance 21-0001, which broadly prohibits the use of facial recognition technology in Baltimore. The letter also was sent to Mayor Brandon Scott.

Guidance Is Needed

Previously, Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett informed APA that the biometric limits in Baltimore were not intended to impact employer timekeeping and security systems that use facial recognition. The problem is that the employer exception is not clearly stated in the ordinance. Therefore, APA asked that the city post the information on an official government website, which has not occurred.

Ideally, the city ordinance should include the employer exception. In its September 2021 letter, the APA recommended a frequently asked question and offered language that could be used.

Increasing Privacy Laws

As more businesses adopt biometric management systems, states and localities are enacting privacy laws to, at minimum, require disclosure and consent. These laws also can restrict sale or sharing of biometric data, require signage identifying systems in place, and provide a private right of action for violations. The laws that apply to employer biometric systems do not offer a solution if an employee does not provide consent, i.e., if an employee refuses to consent to a facial recognition timeclock.

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