The commission was created by Section 105 of Chapter 253 of the Acts of 2020
SECTION 105. (a) Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, there shall be a special legislative commission established pursuant to section 2A of chapter 4 of the General Laws to conduct a study on government use of facial recognition technology in the commonwealth.
The commission shall consist of 22 members: 2 of whom shall be the chairs of the joint committee on the judiciary or their designees, who shall serve as co-chairs; 3 of whom shall be appointed by the president of the senate; 3 of whom shall be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; 1 of whom shall be the minority leader of the house of representatives or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the minority leader of the senate or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the chief justice of the supreme judicial court or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the attorney general or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the secretary of public safety and security or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the registrar of motor vehicles or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Inc. or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the chief counsel for the committee for public counsel services or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People New England Area Conference or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the colonel of state police or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association or a designee; 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Incorporated or a designee; 1 of whom shall be an academic expert in: (i) data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning; (ii) social implications of artificial intelligence and technology; or (iii) information policy, technology and the law, to be appointed by the governor.
The commission shall evaluate government use of facial recognition technology in the commonwealth and make recommendations to the legislature regarding appropriate regulations, limits, standards and safeguards. The commission shall:
(i) survey current government uses of facial recognition technology in the commonwealth;
(ii) consult with academic experts in the fields of machine learning, algorithmic bias, criminal law, and human rights;
(iii) examine research regarding the ability of facial recognition technology to accurately identify people of different races, genders and ages;
(iv) examine and evaluate the facial recognition system operated by the registry of motor vehicles, make recommendations for regular independent bias testing and propose standards to ensure accuracy and equity of the system based on age, race, gender and religion;
(v) examine access to the facial recognition system operated by the registry of motor vehicles and the management of information derived from it, including, but not limited to, data retention, data sharing and audit trails;
(vi) evaluate current access by federal agencies to databases maintained by the commonwealth that catalogue images of faces and examine which agencies have such access, and the authorization for, and terms of, such access;
(vii) evaluate a requirement for law enforcement agencies to obtain a probable cause warrant prior to performing facial recognition searches, including the merits of requiring enhanced standards to perform a search similar to those set forth in section 99 of chapter 272 of the General Laws;
(viii) examine whether, and under what circumstances, it is appropriate for law enforcement agencies to perform facial recognition searches without a warrant, and make recommendations for safeguards regarding due process, accountability, oversight, documentation and transparency for any such searches;
(ix) provide recommendations for any necessary due process protections for criminal defendants when facial recognition technology is used in a criminal investigation;
(x) provide recommendations to ensure privacy for the public, including, but not limited to, the use of facial recognition to conduct surveillance of people in public spaces; and
(xi) provide recommendations for adequate training and oversight on the use of facial recognition technology.
For the purposes of this section, “facial recognition” shall mean an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual or capturing information about an individual based on the physical characteristics of an individual’s face, head or body, that uses characteristics of an individual’s face, head or body to infer emotion, associations, activities or the location of an individual; provided, however, that “facial recognition” shall not include the use of search terms to sort images in a database.
(b) The executive office of public safety and security shall, at the request of the commission, provide to the commission timely access to all information to be published in the annual report pursuant to subsection (d) of section 220 of chapter 6 of the General Laws.
(c) The commission shall convene beginning not later than February 15, 2021 and shall submit its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, relative to the use of facial recognition technology by filing the same with the clerks of the house of representatives and senate and the governor not later than December 31, 2021.