San Francisco bans facial recognition technology

Bay Area
San Francisco approves ban on facial recognition technology

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved legislation Tuesday afternoon that bans the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies and law enforcement. 

Today’s vote makes San Francisco the first U.S. city to ban the surveillance technology. 

The ban applies to city departments, but not to personal, business or federal use. 

Facial recognition technology has inspired debate about bias and privacy — with some supporters of San Francisco’s ordinance saying the technology often operates out of public sight and collects personal information without the approval of residents.

Opponents of the ban say the technology helps catch criminals. 

The bill was introduced in January by city supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Peskin said back then, “The facial recognition ban would be the first of its kind in the country, intended to protect some of our most vulnerable communities from inaccurate/unfair profiling.”

The legislation also requires public notice of use of the software and city agencies to get approval from the board of supervisors before obtaining surveillance technology. 

Tuesday’s vote was 8 to 1, with one supervisor saying the legislation could compromise safety. 

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