San Francisco Forbids Facial Recognition

The city of San Francisco is the first in the United States to forbid authorities to use the controversial face recognition technology. The city council of the metropolis decided that Tuesday evening (local time). The airport and seaport are exempt from the ban because they fall under federal jurisdiction.

The city council also decided that the authorities must make public what observation technologies are being used. Furthermore, the governing body remains authorized to authorize the use of new technologies for the collection and storage of personal information.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, explains that this the first ban of its kind for a major American city and the seventh major surveillance oversight effort for a municipality in California.

“I want to be clear — this is not an anti-technology policy,” Peskin said during Tuesday’s board meeting. Peskin deemphasized the ban aspect of the ordinance, instead framing it as an outgrowth of the sweeping data privacy reforms signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown last year and an extension of prior efforts in other counties around the state. In 2016, Santa Clara county passed its own predecessor to San Francisco’s surveillance oversight policy, but that ordinance did not include a ban.

Peskin clarified that the ordinance is an accountability measure “to ensure the safe and responsible use” of surveillance tech and to allow the public to be involved in decisions like how long data is stored and who can see it.


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