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San Francisco implements ban on facial recognition

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The city of San Francisco in the U.S has approved an ordinance on Tuesday that stops the police department and other city agencies from using facial recognition technology on residents.

Being the first of such ban of the technology in the country, the ordinance, which passed by a vote of 8 to 1, also creates a process for the police department to disclose what surveillance technology they use.

The bill which was introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin singles out facial recognition as too harmful to residents’ civil liberties to even consider using.

The bill was supported by the Privacy advocacy group Secure Justice and was joined by ACLU of Northern California and several other advocacy groups.

Several other cities such as Oakland and Berkeley in California, as well as Sommerville and Massachusetts are considering facial recognition bans. This is part of a larger backlash against the technology from privacy advocates, as well as lawmakers and even other tech companies.

The President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, Tony Montoya, said the union doesn’t oppose the ban outright. But it is concerned that it will take away a useful investigation tool. He also reinstated that the department doesn’t use facial recognition technology.

Several other cities in California and beyond have already enacted laws that create transparency requirements for surveillance technology which also requires police departments to explain which technologies they are using and submit to a public comment process.

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