San Francisco Bans Use Of Facial Recognition Technology By Law Enforcement

The California city is the first major U.S. city to ban government use of the technology.

San Francisco has banned the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies, including law enforcement ― becoming the first major U.S. city to do so.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to pass an ordinance on Tuesday that would ban any city department from using facial recognition technology or any information obtained from it.

Passed with an 8-1 vote, the ordinance will also require city departments to get approval from the Board of Supervisors before purchasing other surveillance technology ― including license plate readers, body cameras and biometrics technology, among other items.

“The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits,” the San Francisco ordinance reads. “And the technology will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring.”

Facial recognition technology has drawn scrutiny for its flaws, notably for frequently improperly identifying darker-skinned people.

In one high-profile example last year, Amazon’s facial recognition tool incorrectly matched the faces of 28 lawmakers with people in mug shots and disproportionately misidentified people of color in a test by the ACLU.

“We know face surveillance technology is less accurate for people of color, and a misidentification could subject people to racially biased police violence,” ACLU of Northern California attorney Matt Cagle told HuffPost last week.

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