San Fransisco bans facial recognition software

San  Fransisco city, United States has banned use of facial recognition technology by police and other government departments. The move is contained in the Acquisition of Surveillance Technology Code which creates a rights based approach to surveillance technology through mechanisms such as prior approval before purchase of surveillance software, surveillance impact assessments, surveillance audits and surveillance policies for each department operating surveillance software.

Facial recognition software is being increasingly adopted for policing around the world. Rights groups such as American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have raised concern about bias and inaccuracies with most facial recognition software, particularly against people of colour and women.

San Francisco’s  ban does not affect application of facial recognition in spaces under the federal government such as airports. It received support from the San Francisco Police Department which according to reports is internally auditing use of surveillance technology. A local rights group, Stop Crime SF opposed the law, citing public safety concerns. They advised on a moratorium as they expect improvements in facial recognition technology to address current bias concerns.