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San Francisco Becomes First City To Ban Facial Recognition

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The facial recognition technology has barely been fully incorporated and it is already facing oppositions. San Francisco has become the first city in the United States to ban facial recognition. The legislators in the states have now voted in favour of the ban. They will no longer allow law enforcement, local agencies and the city’s transport authority to use it.


Also, people living in San Francisco now need city administrators’ approval to buy any type of new surveillance technology. This move is not going without opposition. Some people think the measure will hinder crime fighters and pose safety risks.


On the other hand, some in favour of facial recognition technology. They think that facial recognition is an unnecessary infringement on people’s privacy. They also think it is largely unreliable. To them, it is particularly susceptible to error, especially when dealing with women or people of colour.


San Francisco


Matt Cagle from the American Civil Liberties Union in Northern California, while defending the vote to ban facial recognition, said,

“San Francisco has declared that face surveillance technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy and that residents deserve a voice in decisions about high-tech surveillance.”


He also urged other cities in America to follow suit.

“We applaud the city for listening to the community and leading the way forward with this crucial legislation. Other cities should take note and set up similar safeguards to protect people’s safety and civil rights.”


The measure, expected to be officially passed into law after a second vote next week, was passed 8-1 by San Francisco’s supervisors. However, there were two absentees.


Joel Engardio, a big opposition to the rule and vice-president of Stop Crime SF, said,

“Instead of an outright ban, we believe a moratorium would have been more appropriate. We agree there are problems with facial recognition ID technology and it should not be used today. But the technology will improve and it could be a useful tool for public safety when used responsibly. We should keep the door open for that possibility.”


The new rule will, however, not affect federal agencies like the San Francisco airport or seaport. This is because they are not local agencies.

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