San Francisco becomes first US state to ban facial recognition technology

San Francisco becomes first US state to ban facial recognition technology

San Francisco officials have voted 8 to 1 to ban the purchase and use of facial recognition technology by the city personnel. This is in response to a move that regulates tools that Silicon Valley companies helped develop.

The ordinance requires city departments to submit surveillance technology policies for public vetting.

The action puts San Francisco at the forefront of discontent throughout the United States over the use of facial recognition software.

Although the technology has been used for years by government agencies, it has recently become more powerful with the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies.

"We have a fundamental duty to safeguard the public from potential abuses," Aaron Peskin, the city supervisor who championed the ban said before the board's vote to SBS.

The aim is to protect “marginalised groups” that could be harmed by the technology.

While communities are moving to limit facial recognition, police have increased their use of the software, using it to spot potential suspects in known offender databases after a crime has occurred.

The technology is also being used by US customs agents who are vetting foreign travellers at airports with facial recognition.

Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said that concerns were “overblown”.

“Concerns that the U.S. government would use face identification for mass surveillance, like China has, were overblown.” He said.

San Francisco's "ban on facial recognition will make it frozen in time with outdated technology," he said.