Biometrics Takes a Back Seat San Francisco Becomes The First City In The World To Ban Facial Recognition

Yes; you have got it right – San Francisco becomes the first US city to ban facial recognition by government agencies, reconstituting privacy laws in the United States. As a first for a city in the US, San Francisco has voted in favor of imposing ban on using facial recognition technology by government agencies in the form of an ordinance.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 1 to endorse the application, scheduled to take effect within a month, barring government agencies that include law enforcement groups from using the technology. The ordinance, inter alia, will make city agencies seek Board approval for the use of this surveillance technology, while setting up necessary check in regard to surveillance super ways already in use. As expected, most major US cities will soon follow suit.

“This is not an anti-technology issue,” argued a board member, on promise of keeping his identity undisclosed.

The Ordinance

The legal framework, called the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, was initiated by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. In a statement delivered before the commencement of the voting procedure, Peskin said it was “an ordinance about having accountability around surveillance technology.”

The ban surfaced in course of sundry other disputes linking facial recognition that can be instantly implemented and so has triggered vital questions in regard to civil liberties. No wonder social thinkers have raised specific concerns about the tools, as studies have demonstrated instances of mass unrest and turmoil.

Microsoft, which incidentally offers facial recognition tools, has called for some form of regulation for the technology to work with — but how precisely to regulate the tool has remained vague and unclear. Proposals have ranged from light regulation to full moratoriums.  However, more detils about it has been posted in this blog later.

An Example

San Francisco’s decision will no doubt be considered as an example, while the debate will continue, while other cities and states will decide whether and how to regulate facial recognition. Civil liberties groups like the ACLU of Northern California have already provided their support behind the San Francisco plan,

But How Should We Regulate Facial Recognition?

Let us face the facts – facial recognition is part of the routine everywhere — airportspolice stations, with a handful of federal rules to oversee how it is to be used. That’s been going on for quite a time, albeit a few embarrassing incidents vitiating the scene. At the same time, it must be remembered that the procedure, if gone into wrong hands can lead to social catastrophes.

Face recognition is perched high to become one of the most controversial surveillance technologies, and law enforcement’s use of it is gaining ground rapidly.

Microsoft Feels Facial Recognition Laws Should Be Implemented Right Away

Microsoft, to be precise, wants new laws to put some kind of restrain on the use and development of facial recognition.

Microsoft president Brad Smith has relentlessly contacted companies around the world to know their views about regulation of AI face recognition technology and adopting laws to implement the same.

Nevertheless, he believes that the adoption of face recognition technologies is occurring without meaningful oversight, sans proper accuracy testing of the systems as they are actually used in the field, and lack of any enactment or legal protections to prevent internal and external misuse. This has led to the unhealthy growth of unproven, inaccurate systems that will intrude on constitutional rights and disproportionately impact people of color (a factor that present day America is facing heavily). So, the only answer is imposition of appropriate laws that will keep both sides happy.