Hamden councilmen introduce ordinance that would prevent town agencies from using facial recognition systems

New Haven

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Can too much technology be harmful? As technology becomes more a part of our lives, that’s the question for two councilmembers in Hamden. 

Councilman Brad MacDowall and Councilman Austin Cesare introduced an ordinance that would prevent any Hamden department or agency from using facial recognition systems.

“I just think it’s the right thing to do to make sure we’re always doing our jobs to be diligent to make sure we have that balance between constitutional rights and freedom of the people and making sure nothing is putting that in any jeopardy,” Cesare told News 8.

For the past five months, the two councilmembers have been working together and have finally drafted the ordinance. 

MacDowall says his main concern is the lack of accuracy, “when you look at Black and Asian women, they are disproportionately misidentified or provided false matches for.”

The primary users of any type of facial recognition software are police departments. Hamden Police Department tells News 8 they are not currently using any facial recognition software and have no plans to use one in the future.

Both councilmembers say it’s about equipping police departments, fire departments and even schools with the proper technology that’s reliable and benefits both the town and the people.

“I’m a proponent of police department but as a councilperson I have an obligation to set parameters around certain technologies,” Cesare said.

MacDowall says the main priority is to pave the way as technology continues to enhance, “you need to put something on the books what is allowed and what is not.”

Next month, the ordinance will go in front of a committee before heading to council. The final say will come from the mayor of Hamden on whether it becomes a law or not.

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