Sunday February 03, 2019

San Francisco May Be the First City in the Nation to Ban Facial Recognition

There already exists some degree of pushback regarding the use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement and other agencies in San Francisco, as demonstrated by legislation mandating board approval before such surveillance may be used. City supervisor Aaron Peskin doesn’t think current ordinance is enough, however, having proposed a new law that would place "an outright ban on facial recognition technology." If passed, the "Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance" would make San Francisco the first in the country to make facial recognition illegal.

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Civil rights groups have raised concerns about the threat to privacy and safety posed by facial recognition, as well problems with accuracy. "We know that facial recognition technology, which has the biases of the people who developed it, disproportionately misidentifies people of color and women," Peskin said Tuesday. "This is a fact." BART officials came under fire over the summer when they began exploring the implementation of a surveillance system and former BART board member Nick Josefowitz expressed interest in facial recognition software that could help identify specific individuals, such as those with arrest warrants.