Latest in Gear

Image credit:

San Francisco bans city use of facial recognition

It's the first US city to outright forbid government adoption.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 14, 2019
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

San Francisco is following through on talk of banning facial recognition tech. The city's Board of Supervisors has voted 8-1 in favor of a bill, the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, that bans city government (including police) from using facial recognition technology. It also demands a public oversight body for surveillance technology purchases such as license plate readers and Stingray cell tower spoofers. The move makes San Francisco the first city in the US to outright ban government adoption of facial recognition tech.

The measure was put forward by Supervisor Aaron Peskin to protect civil rights and liberties, ensuring people that can "live free of continuous government monitoring." It's also meant reduce the chances of face recognition tech being used to "exacerbate racial injustice" through both technical biases and systemic abuse. The surveillance oversight requirements won't ban existing systems like body cameras and ShotSpotter, but they will require annual audits to prove that they're both effective and working as intended.

The ban isn't likely to please law enforcement, even though local police don't use the technology (it's only in use under federal control at SFO). It's also liable to frustrate Amazon and other companies selling facial recognition tech to city governments. Their voices aren't likely to carry much sway, though, and the vote might provide momentum to cities thinking about their own facial recognition bans, including the neighboring city of Oakland as well as Somerville, MA. In short: surveillance tech purveyors may have to accept that some cities just won't be interested.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2020 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2020 Back-to-School Guide

View
Our readers get real about their issues with the AirPods Pro

Our readers get real about their issues with the AirPods Pro

View
Space Force official logo and motto unveiled

Space Force official logo and motto unveiled

View
Disney has no idea what it's doing with 'Mulan'

Disney has no idea what it's doing with 'Mulan'

View
20GB of Intel internal documents were leaked online

20GB of Intel internal documents were leaked online

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr