If a new proposed municipal ordinance passes in the coming months, San Francisco could become the first city in America to outright ban the use of facial recognition technology by its police department or any other city agency.
According to a new bill unveiled Tuesday and first reported by the San Francisco Examiner and The Verge, the city would also impose a new pre-emptive “Surveillance Technology Policy” for city agencies that want to acquire any new gear that could impact privacy. Such a requirement would put San Francisco in line with its neighboring cities of Oakland and Berkeley.
“Our intent is to catch people’s attention and have a broader conversation as to where the moral precipice is for technology, after which you’ve gone too far,” said Lee Hepner, a legislative aide to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who proposed the bill. “This is a harm to our way of life, a harm to our democracy, and a harm to marginalized communities. There is a salient interest in facial recognition, too: it creeps people out.”