SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- As police work to identify people who breached the Capitol building last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said facial recognition technology is being used to identify people who may be from Massachusetts.
Governor Baker said he believes this is an important tool to use, but one local representative said this technology is far from ready.
More people are being identified across the country for breaching the U.S. Capitol building last week.
Governor Baker said facial recognition technology is being used to identify residents in our state who may have been involved with the riot. The technology is software Gov. Baker refused to ban in December.
“One of the reasons I was so aggressive about maintaining access to that facial recognition technology was because I believe it is an important tool for dealing with issues like the one that took place in Washington last week,” Gov. Baker said. “I'm glad that we are still able to use that technology here in Massachusetts within a framework that we and the legislature all agreed on.”
Seven communities across Massachusetts have banned facial recognition technology: Easthampton, Northampton, Springfield, Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville.
The technology has been controversial across the commonwealth. The unregulated software scans faces captured by cameras or that are on file with the RMV and matches them with people.
“This technology has proven to not only be inaccurate, but it’s also proven to be problematic. It's not ready for this type of use,” State Representative Orlando Ramos said.
Ramos said he backed the effort last year to have the software banned in Springfield until it is further developed.
“It could lead to mass surveillance, and that’s always been a concern,” Ramos said. “No one wants to live in a type of society where we’re being watched by the government everywhere that we go.”
He said while the people who breached the Capitol building should be prosecuted, he doesn't think the facial recognition technology is ready to be used.
“It’s dangerous. It needs to be regulated first, and then once we have regulations in place, we can talk about when and how it should be used,” Ramos explained.
But Gov. Baker said investigations are already underway.
“Obviously, if any of those roads lead back to people in Massachusetts, I fully expect that those folks will get arrested and prosecuted as they should be,” Gov. Baker said.
Gov. Baker also said there have been no specific threats here in Massachusetts as the FBI warned of potential violence across the nation beginning this week.