Facial Recognition Software

Facial Recognition Software (Photo credit: Carline Jean/ Sun Sentinel/TNS/Sipa USA)

San Francisco Becomes First City To Ban Facial Recognition Technology

Carrie Hodousek
May 15, 2019 - 6:37 am

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco city leaders have voted to ban government agencies from using facial recognition technology.

The ban makes it the first city in the country to prohibit government agencies, including law enforcement, from using of devices that identify people by their face through images and surveillance video. 

The Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 on Tuesday to pass the law. 

Those in favor of the move say the technology is unreliable and infringes on people’s privacy. 

"There's a reason why we should not use the technology now because of its failure rate, how it misidentifies people of color," said Stop Crime SF's Joel Engardio. "These are all concerns that are valid. If it's problematic, we should not use it." 

Related: Microsoft Raises Alarms About Face Recognition

Opponents of the law, like Daniel Castro with Technology and Innovation Foundation, fear the ban could put our safety at risk and could hinder efforts to fight crime.

"It makes communities safer. It makes law enforcement more effective," said Castro, "and that's what we should be focused on — making it better, not prohibiting the use of the technology.

The measure is set to take effect next month. Oakland is considering a similar ban.