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Berkshire Legislator Disappointed With Failure To Ban Facial Recognition Technology In Reform Bill

A bearded white man speaks while seated at a table with a brick wall behind him and a mic with a WAMC logo on it in front of him
Josh Landes
2nd Berkshire District State Rep. Paul Mark, speaking to WAMC News in Dalton, Massachusetts in 2019.

Not all Berkshire County legislators are pleased with the final form of the police reform bill Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on Thursday.

Democratic 2nd Berkshire District State Representative Paul Mark says he takes issue with the amended bill scaling back prohibitions on facial recognition technology. Baker threatened a veto when the House’s original draft fully banned its use for the time being.

“The possibility for abuse and misuse is great, and the possibility for mistaken identity as the technology develops is also great,” he told WAMC.

The bill allows the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in certain circumstances if a request is filed to the RMV, State Police or FBI. Civil rights groups like the ACLU of Massachusetts have pushed for a moratorium on the technology.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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