Ban facial recognition?

San Francisco is first US city to ban facial recognition

San Francisco Chronicle

SF could ban facial recognition software - opinion is divided over whether that's good

San Francisco may become the first city in the country to ban municipal use of facial recognition software - a move that privacy advocates applaud but others say will outlaw a useful crime-solving tool.

The Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a proposal by Supervisor Aaron Peskin that would bar city departments from using the technology, except at federally regulated facilities such as the airport and port. Departments would also have to disclose all the surveillance technology they currently use and get board approval for any new technology that collects, retains or processes a person's data.

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Is San Francisco right to ban facial recognition?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

San Francisco is the first US city to ban facial recognition - and other cities could soon join them.

Legislators passed a vote to stop its use by law enforcement and other agencies in Frisco.

However, some argue that it goes too far - and there should be regulation, rather than a full ban.

The Claim

San Francisco is the first US city to ban the use of facial recognition, the BBC reports.

Legislators in San Francisco passed the vote by eight to one, with two absentees. It is expected to be officially passed into city law after a second vote next week.

Matt Cagle, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union in Northern California, praises the legislators' decision. He argues that other cities should follow San Francisco's lead.

He said: "With this vote, San Francisco has declared that face surveillance technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy and that residents deserve a voice in decisions about high-tech surveillance.

"We applaud the city for listening to the community, and leading the way forward with this crucial legislation.

Cagle added: "Other cities should take note and set up similar safeguards to protect people's safety and civil rights."

The Counterclaim

However, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, opinion is divided over whether the ban would be good for the city.

They spoke to Daniel Castro, director of the Center for Data Innovation at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, who argues that an outright ban on facial recognition goes way too far.

He said: "To say we’re just going to have an across-the-board ban on something that has some beneficial uses is very misguided and hurts the citizens and the police from using it in beneficial ways."

Castro added: "We’re in this phase right now where there is a lot of fear around technology and what it might do, so there is a motivation to react to it.

"But over time, I think the benefits are clear. People understand their fears about technology before they understand its benefits."

Frank Noto, president of Stop Crime SF, told the Chronicle that he supports regulating the use of facial recognition, but not an outright ban.

He said: "The technology is improving and it is continuing to improve.

"We agree it needs to be tested and needs to be more reliable, but that time will come. But banning it forever doesn’t make a lot of sense."

The Facts

San Francisco’s police department had previously tested face ID technology, but stopped in 2017.

The technology will not be allowed to be used by law enforcement or local agencies, such as the city's transport authority.

Plans to buy new surveillance technologies must also be approved by city administrators.

San Francisco could be joined by other US cities looking to ban facial recognition. The Oakland City Council may vote on a similar measure this year, and officials from officials in Somerville in Massachusetts are considering something similar.

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San Francisco bans facial recognition in US first

Legislators in San Francisco have voted to ban the use of facial recognition, the first US city to do so.

The emerging technology will not be allowed to be used by local agencies, such as the city's transport authority, or law enforcement.

Additionally, any plans to buy any kind of new surveillance technology must now be approved by city administrators.

Opponents of the measure said it will put people's safety at risk and hinder efforts to fight crime.

Those in favour of the move said the technology as it exists today is unreliable, and represented an unnecessary infringement on people's privacy and liberty.

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