San Francisco is the first major United States city to restrict the use of facial recognition technology by government and law enforcement [theregister.co.uk].
San Francisco has become the first major city in America, if not the world, to effectively ban facial recognition technology and other forms of state surveillance.
In an 8-1 vote on Tuesday, the city's Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance that requires all local government departments – including the police – to follow a series of new policies and get explicit permission from the Board before introducing any new technology that stores information on individuals.
The ordinance also will require all departments to provide a report listing any and all technologies and software in use to "collect, retain, process or share" a person’s data "audio, electronic, visual, location, thermal, biometric, olfactory or similar" within 60 days.
It provides an extensive example list of the sort of technologies included: cell site simulators, license plate readers, closed-circuit television cameras, gunshot detection hardware, body cameras, DNA capture technology, biometric software and so on.
The tech industry backed Information Technology and Innovation Foundation opposes the ban, while the American Civil Liberties Union support is.
The ordinance makes it plain what the intent and concern is behind the new law by referring to all such efforts as "surveillance technology." After it has reviewed all the reports, the Board will decide which technologies are appropriate and change the ordinance in response.
Going forward any city department will have to go through an extensive multi-step impact and public review process culminating in obtaining final approval from the Board.
San Francisco's civil liberties first approach stands in contrast that taken in other cities such as London which have instead aggressively rolled out such technologies.