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Portland Pushes Back on Surveillance State with Strict Facial Recognition Ban

Portland’s new law is considered to be one of the strictest in the nation.

As we enter this terrifying new digital age, the lessons that we should have learned from George Orwell are becoming far more obvious.

His seminal novel 1984 reads more like a playbook than a dystopian warning these days, as we hand our right to privacy over to the police and the technocracy, leaving experts to suggest that Orwell is currently trying to kick the lid off of his coffin to save us.

In Portland, a city currently roiling under the weight of violent, anti-police riots, officials have now enacted one of the strictest pieces of anti-Big-Brother legislation in the nation.

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Portland City Council members voted unanimously on Wednesday to prohibit the public – and, in some cases, private – use of facial recognition technology, making it the most stringent ban of this kind nationwide, according to multiple reports.

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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty introduced the bans, which immediately took effect for city agencies, and will be effective on Jan. 1 for private businesses, The Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The ordinances bar the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies and on public property within the city, but also prohibit its use “by private entities in places of public accommodation,” according to city agency Smart City PDX.

Wheeler, who has received plenty of criticism for his handling of the rioting that has plagued the city for over 100 consecutive nights, issued a stern statement on the subject.

Facial recognition technology violates the public’s personal privacy and has “a demonstrated gender and racial bias,” Wheeler said, according to OPB.com.

“Technology exists to make our lives easier, not for public and private entities to use as a weapon against the very citizens they serve and accommodate,” the Democratic mayor reportedly said.

Experts have long been concerned that the use of facial recognition technology could lead to an increased loss of privacy and enhanced data mining by some of the world’s larger tech firms.

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