A lawmaker from San Francisco has introduced legislation last day that would make the first city in the nation to forbid the government use of facial recognition technology. The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, set to be proposed by San Francisco supervisor Aaron Peskin, that require legislative approval before departments in the city or law enforcement adopt new surveillance technology or policies for the utilization of existing technologies.
The legislation would also create annual audits of surveillance technology to make sure the tools are properly used. The ordinance, if approved, also creates a blanket ban that stops those departments from purchasing or utilizing facial recognition technology. The legislation that would also apply to law enforcement would represent a new step in the battle over the powerful tool. The proposal came out at a precarious time for facial recognition tech. This proposal would not only forbid facial recognition but would also call for the Board of Supervisors to approve new surveillance technology in general. The board would have to find that the advantages of the technology outweigh the costs, that civil rights will be secured and that the technology will not disparately impact a community or group.
Peskin proposed the proposal that introduced Tuesday as an extension of his Privacy First Policy, approved by voters in November last year that sets new limits and transparency requirements on the collection and utilization of personal data by businesses doing business with The City. The legislation will be heard in committee next month, and it has received support from civil rights groups, including the ACLU of Northern California.