The city of San Francisco has decided to prohibit the use of facial recognition technology by police and other local government authorities. The ban is part of an anti-surveillance ordinance that the city's Board of Supervisors approved, making it the largest American city to ban facial recognition technology.

The ordinance will come into force next month. It prohibits the use of face recognition by dozens of the city’s departments, including the police. However, the ordinance does exempt federally controlled territories at the San Francisco International Airport and seaport. The ordinance also does not prevent private businesses or city residents from using facial recognition. or any other type of surveillance technology, such as security cameras. It also does not restrict the police's use of photographs and footage obtained from private individuals to assist police investigations.

Under the ordinance, a city department that wishes to use surveillance technology, including the police, must first obtain approval from the city’s Board of Supervisors. In addition, any department that currently uses surveillance technologies must report to the Board of Supervisors how it is being used. The ordinance further stipulates that the city is required to report to the Board of Supervisors the use of any approved surveillance equipment and services, on an annual basis.

Click HERE to read the San Francisco ordinance.

This article was published in the Internet, Cyber and Copyright Group’s May 2019 Newsletter.