San Francisco Might Become the First American City That Will Ban Facial Recognition Technology

San Francisco Might Become the First American City That Will Ban Facial Recognition Technology


On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to vote on a proposal initially introduced by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, called the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance (SSSO).

This particular ordinance imposes very detailed limits on how biometric data can be collected by San Francisco’s city departments and when it can be used, up to the point of banning it completely.

The ordinance defines the meaning of surveillance technology quite clearly as “any software, electronic device, system utilizing an electronic device, or similar device used, designed, or primarily intended to collect, retain, process, or share audio, electronic, visual, location, thermal, biometric, olfactory or similar information specifically associated with, or capable of being associated with, any individual or group.”

Body-worn cameras and RFID scanners are also included though the San Francisco Police Department’s body cameras or the city-wide ShotSpotter system will not be on that list. Even so, they will still go through annual audits that will review the way these systems collect data and if they are operating as intended.

“The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits”

If the ordinance will pass, it will make San Francisco the first city in the United States to ban the technology but before that will happen, the department needs to submit impact reports to the Board of Supes, for a thorough review.

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