New York City Council members are looking to pass legislation that would ban the use of facial recognition and other technology used to identify people on business and residential properties. These businesses include stadiums and retail stores. If passed, the two pieces of legislation will come with a certain number of provisions placing limitations on the collection of data through facial recognition and other means. The bills will be introduced at a New York City Council meeting on April 27th.
The first bill is sponsored by City Council Members Shahana Hanif and Jennifer Gutierrez. The bill will make it illegal for business enterprises to collect and use biometric identifier technology without notifying the people using the business facilities. The people whose faces, eyes, fingerprints, hands, and voices are being scanned will have to give written consent for that data to be collected. The data collected may not be used to deny customers service or access to business premises.
The data collected may not be shared with third parties and the business collecting the data should have a publicly available written policy declaring how the data will be destroyed. Places that regularly collect data with the required consent must ensure regular cyber security checks are done. Violations of the law may result in punishments of paying up to $5,000 to the aggrieved party.
The second bill will ban residential buildings from installing, activating, or using biometric recognition technology that identifies tenants and their guests. The second bill will be sponsored by City Council Members Carlina Rivera, Pierina Ana Sanchez, and Tiffany Cabán.
These bills have most likely been inspired by Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp’s barring of lawyers involved in lawsuits against the company from entering the venue and other venues the company owns. It is also alleged that the company has used facial recognition technology to target fans that have criticized James Dolan, Madison Square Garden’s owner.
“My experience as a Muslim New Yorker raised in the post 9/11 era of Muslim surveillance has forced me to be attuned to how excessive surveillance and invasive technology can be used to discriminate against Black and brown New Yorkers,” Hanif, sponsor of the first bill, wrote in a statement to Bloomberg Law.
“The recent events at Madison Square Garden are a high-profile example of the inevitable civil liberty violations that occur when our governments allow private businesses to use these tools,” she said.
Madison Square Garden has denied using the technology outside of the confines of the law.
Lawmakers are making an effort to ensure that the above-mentioned technology does not unduly infringe on the rights and freedom of New Yorkers. The aforementioned data collection may be misused for the wrong reasons such as illegally restricting the movement of people.
“We must do what we can as a city to protect New Yorkers’ privacy and information and ensure that these products are not used in ways that harm consumers and workers,” said Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez at a Council hearing in February 2023.