The Maine Civil Liberties Union says state regulators should rescind the requirement to place multiple video cameras in and out of adult cannabis use businesses, arguing that doing so would violate Maine’s ban on facial recognition surveillance.
The ACLU said the requirement, which appears in a set of draft rules for the regulatory framework for the state’s adult use or recreational marijuana program, “would unnecessarily expose customers and workers to the cannabis industry to track privacy violations and collect data.” In a letter to the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy this week.
But the Office of Cannabis Policy, part of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, says the draft rules simply update existing video surveillance requirements for cannabis businesses to cover newly approved cannabis delivery.
“This requirement is not and has never been a requirement for facial recognition,” said Sharon Huntley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.
“It’s an extension of existing retail camera requirements – the same requirements that have been extended to the approved delivery business, which has already been approved by the legislature,” Huntley said.
Huntley said the rule-making process is in progress and the Office of Cannabis Policy will be making comments, providing responses, and establishing new regulations soon.
The ACLU says the surveillance requirement violates Maine law because cannabis retailers are required to record and store video of shoppers’ faces and pass that data on to government officials.
Maine passed a law last year Protects people in the state from government facial recognition softwaresaid Michael Kebede, policy advisor for the Maine Civil Liberties Union.
“What the cannabis rule requires is a monitoring system to monitor the identity of the buyer and ascertain the identity of the face. Our argument is the only way to do that is by violating the face ban,” Kebede said.
All cannabis businesses in the state’s adult use program, including growers, testing labs, producers and retail stores, need multiple digital cameras at all entrances and exits and enough indoors to cover their activities, from cultivation through testing, processing and sales, according to the laws.
In retail stores, cameras must be placed at every point of sale to monitor every buyer and “ensure facial identity”.
Camera footage must be stored for 45 days, subjected to random screening and provided to DAS personnel upon request.
The updated rules will require stores to use mobile phone cameras to record all delivery transactions and “ensure face ID”.
Follow Maine Ban’s Law Facial recognition software in Portland It came in response to concerns that law enforcement agencies can do Use of such programs without the knowledge of the public.
The law contains limited exceptions
under LawState and local governments are prohibited from using or accessing face monitoring systems and cannot contract or license third parties to use these systems on their behalf.
The law has limited exceptions, including for serious crimes, to aid in the identification of a dead or missing person, when a search is conducted through the Office of Motor Vehicles or for Specific uses in prisons.
The definition of “face monitoring” in law is an automated or semi-automated process that helps identify a person or capture information about a person based on their physical characteristics.
The adult cannabis rule does not seem to require companies to have such a complex system in place. But the ACLU said the only possible way to identify faces in surveillance footage is to use an automated process, which puts the rule in violation of the law.
“There is no compelling rationale for ubiquitous video surveillance of cannabis establishments,” the group said. “In fact, there is nothing in the marijuana legalization law that requires video surveillance – let alone facial recognition technology – to be part of how the state regulates cannabis enterprises.”
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