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New York

Tuesday 20th March 2018

San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Use by Police, Government

Counterterrorism & Security

7Dnews London

Wed, 15 May 2019 11:05 GMT

San Francisco has banned the use of facial recognition by police or other government agencies, the first US city to take such a step as privacy fears mount in the country's technology capital.

Legislators argued that using software and cameras to positively identify people is, as city councillor Aaron Peskin put it, "not ready for prime time."

Thus far, all but one of the nine members of San Francisco's board of supervisors endorsed the legislation, which will be voted on again next week in a procedural step not expected to change the result.

"The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits," stated the legislation passed Tuesday May 14th.

Facial recognition could "exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring," it added.

The ban was part of broader legislation setting use and auditing policy for surveillance systems, creating high hurdles and requiring board approval for any city agencies.

"It shall be unlawful for any department to obtain, retain, access, or use any Face Recognition Technology or any information obtained from Face Recognition Technology," read a paragraph within the lengthy document.

The ban did not include airports or other federally regulated facilities.

San Francisco is known as "the tech epicentre of the world" and its Bay Area is home to giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Google parent Alphabet.

US & Canada