San Francisco becomes first US city to ban facial recognition

The city of San Francisco has voted to ban using facial recognition tech by native legislation enforcement and different companies, turning into the first to take such a step towards rolling again the tide of intrusive tech-enabled policing.

The propensity for facial recognition expertise to endanger civil rights and civil liberties considerably outweighs its purported advantages, and the expertise will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our skill to dwell freed from steady authorities monitoring,” the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance reads. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 1 to go the laws.

The new legislation makes it unlawful for city authorities to “acquire, retain, entry or use” facial recognition tech and forces native authorities to solicit public enter earlier than adopting or buying different intrusive applied sciences like predictive policing, license plate readers, and biometric surveillance and to disclose their supposed use. While its attain is strictly native, which means state and federal authorities can nonetheless use the instruments, it’s the first laws of its sort to explicitly ban the tech. Oakland, California and Somerville, Massachusetts are weighing comparable measures.

The California State Assembly seems to be on the identical web page, having banned biometric surveillance in physique cameras final week. Critics of each city and state measures have expressed concern that police will merely flip to non-public sector surveillance for his or her knowledge, however the citywide ban takes these issues under consideration by barring companies from actively soliciting suggestions that they know derive from facial recognition programs, and requiring them to ask their sources whether or not info originated with such programs. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which is working with Somerville on that city’s ban, is trying to insert a prohibition towards public-private knowledge sharing.

Federal authorities, in the meantime, are embracing facial recognition, even inside San Francisco, the place the airport is an early adopter. The Department of Homeland Security hopes to have the 20 largest US airports blanketed with biometric surveillance by 2021, despite the fact that the expertise solely works about 85 p.c of the time, in accordance to the Customs and Border Patrol Inspector General.

Facial recognition has more and more come underneath hearth as critics cost it turbocharges present biases inside legislation enforcement. Multiple research have proven the tech is inept at distinguishing between nonwhite faces, and earlier this 12 months, over 85 human rights teams wrote to Microsoft, Amazon and Google, the highest builders of facial recognition expertise, imploring them to stop promoting the software program to authorities companies, citing the risk to susceptible populations like activists and immigrants.