San Francisco Becomes the First U.S. City to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

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San Francisco Becomes the First U.S. City to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

Associated Press

Associated Press

Associated Press

Angeliq Rigby, Reporter

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On Tuesday, May 14th, San Francisco became the first city in The United States to ban facial recognition technology; the ban is expected to go into effect in about a month. 

This law, which was passed 8-1 through San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, is a part of the “Stop Secret Surveillance” ordinance that outlaws the use of facial recognition technology by police and other government departments. Not only does the ordinance ban this technology, it also requires city agencies to get approval to use surveillance technologies like automatic license plate readers. However, the San Francisco International Airport and the Port of San Francisco are excluded from the ban because of the authority that the Transportation Security Administration and the Customs Border Patrol have. 

Although facial recognition technology has grown in popularity all over the world and is used heavily by police, Aaron Peskin, a San Francisco Supervisor that first introduced the bill, explained that “We all support good policing but none of us want to live in a police state,” adding that facial recognition technology is “fundamentally invasive.” 

While the law prevents government facilities like the police department from using facial recognition technology, it does not stop private citizens or businesses from using similar technology. The law also does not prevent police from using someone’s personal surveillance footage, as long as it is beneficial for a case.  

This ban of facial recognition technology in San Francisco does not include instances like using facial recognition to unlock iPhones, which people can willingly opt out of. With this ban in place, it could lead to other cities across the country to follow suit.