San Francisco votes to ban city use of facial recognition technology

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – San Francisco officers on Tuesday voted eight to 1 to ban the acquisition and use of facial recognition technology by city personnel, in a transfer to regulate instruments that native Silicon Valley corporations helped develop.

City Supervisor Aaron Peskin speaks earlier than a vote on a surveillance technology ordinance that he sponsored, in San Francisco, California, U.S., May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dastin

The ordinance, which additionally would require city departments to submit surveillance technology insurance policies for public vetting, can turn into ultimate after a second vote subsequent week by the identical officers, the city’s Board of Supervisors.

The motion places San Francisco on the forefront of rising discontent within the United States over facial recognition, which authorities businesses have used for years and now has turn into extra highly effective with the rise of cloud computing and synthetic intelligence applied sciences.

“We have a fundamental duty to safeguard the public from potential abuses,” Aaron Peskin, the city supervisor who championed the ban, stated earlier than the board’s vote.

Peskin stated the ordinance was not an anti-technology coverage. It permits continued use of surveillance instruments like safety cameras; the district legal professional or sheriff could make an attraction to use sure restricted technology in distinctive circumstances as properly.

Rather, Peskin stated, the goal is to shield “marginalized groups” that could possibly be harmed by the technology.

For occasion, Inc has come below scrutiny since final 12 months for promoting a picture evaluation and ID service to regulation enforcement. Researchers have stated this service struggles to determine the gender of people with darker pores and skin, prompting fears of unjust arrests. Amazon has defended its work and stated all customers should observe the regulation.

Civil rights teams and corporations together with Microsoft Corp, which markets a facial recognition service, have known as for regulation of the technology in latest months. This has added momentum to the hassle in San Francisco and to a parallel ban reportedly within the works in close by Oakland.

For a draft textual content of the San Francisco ordinance, see

While communities on the coronary heart of the technology business are shifting to restrict facial recognition, police elsewhere have elevated their use, primarily to spot potential suspects in recognized offender databases after a criminal offense has occurred.

U.S. customs brokers are vetting international vacationers at airports with facial recognition, and different federal businesses use the technology too.

Daniel Castro, vp of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, stated considerations that the U.S. authorities would use face identification for mass surveillance, like China has, had been overblown. The non-profit consists of technology business representatives on its board.

San Francisco’s “ban on facial recognition will make it frozen in time with outdated technology,” he stated.

Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; enhancing by Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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