San Francisco bans police use of face recognition technology




  • In Business
  • 2019-05-15 01:32:36Z
  • By Associated Press
 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco supervisors voted Tuesday to ban the use of facial recognition software by police and other city departments, becoming the first U.S. city to outlaw a rapidly developing technology that has alarmed privacy and civil liberties advocates.

The ban is part of broader legislation that requires city departments to establish use policies and obtain board approval for surveillance technology they want to purchase or are using at present. Several other local governments require departments to disclose and seek approval for surveillance technology.

"This is really about saying: 'We can have security without being a security state. We can have good policing without being a police state.' And part of that is building trust with the community based on good community information, not on Big Brother technology," said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who championed the legislation.

The ban applies to San Francisco police and other municipal departments. It does not affect use of the technology by the federal government at airports and ports, nor does it limit personal or business use.

The San Francisco board did not spend time Tuesday debating the outright ban on facial recognition technology, focusing instead on the possible burdens placed on police, the transit system and other city agencies that need to maintain public safety.

"I worry about politicizing these decisions," said Supervisor Catherine Stefani, a former prosecutor who was the sole no vote.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., issued a statement chiding San Francisco for considering the facial recognition ban. It said advanced technology makes it cheaper and faster for police to find suspects and identify missing people.

Critics were silly to compare surveillance usage in the United States with China, given that one country has strong constitutional protections and the other does not, said Daniel Castro, the foundation's vice president.

"In reality, San Francisco is more at risk of becoming Cuba than China_a ban on facial recognition will make it frozen in time with outdated technology," he said.

It's unclear how many San Francisco departments are using surveillance and for what purposes, said Peskin. There are valid reasons for license-plate readers, body cameras, and security cameras, he said, but the public should know how the tools are being used or if they are being abused.

San Francisco's police department stopped testing face ID technology in 2017. A representative at Tuesday's board meeting said the department would need two to four additional employees to comply with the legislation.

Privacy advocates have squared off with public safety proponents at several heated hearings in San Francisco, a city teeming with tech innovation and the home of Twitter, Airbnb and Uber.

Those who support the ban say the technology is flawed and a serious threat to civil liberties, especially in a city that cherishes public protest and privacy. They worry people will one day not be able to go to a mall, the park or a school without being identified and tracked.

But critics say police need all the help they can get, especially in a city with high-profile events and high rates of property crime. That people expect privacy in public space is unreasonable given the proliferation of cellphones and surveillance cameras, said Meredith Serra, a member of a resident public safety group Stop Crime SF.

"To me, the ordinance seems to be a costly additional layer of bureaucracy that really does nothing to improve the safety of our citizens," she said at a hearing.

The city of Oakland is considering similar legislation.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Do 49ers have more offensive weapons than Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams?
Do 49ers have more offensive weapons than Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams?

Whenever the NFL season starts, San Francisco's offense should be a scary sight for opposing defenses.

49ers directly impacted by biggest position upgrades of NFL offseason
49ers directly impacted by biggest position upgrades of NFL offseason

San Francisco is certain to be directly affected by some of the biggest developments of the NFL offseason.

Why 49ers
Why 49ers' toughest NFC West foe might be Cardinals in 2020 NFL season

The Cardinals could sneak up on the 49ers in 2020.

Fire destroys warehouse on San Francisco
Fire destroys warehouse on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf
  • World
  • 2020-05-23 15:19:21Z

A fire engulfed a warehouse on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf early Saturday, sending a thick plume of smoke over the waterfront and threatening to spread to a historic World War II-era ship before firefighters brought the flames under control. No injuries have been reported and firefighters were making multiple searches to ensure no one was inside the building on Pier 45, San Francisco Fire Lt. Jonathan Baxter told reporters from the scene. The warehouse, which holds fish processing equipment and a few offices, is typically unoccupied at night but homeless people have been seen in buildings and warehouses in the area, Baxter said.

AP PHOTOS: Lockdown journey through a silenced San Francisco
AP PHOTOS: Lockdown journey through a silenced San Francisco
  • World
  • 2020-05-23 12:44:07Z

At the corner of Powell and Market streets, pigeons walk across an empty cable car turntable - one usually surrounded by dozens of tourists waiting to board. About the only thing open besides a couple of electronics stores was a poultry butcher shop.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Business