back to article San Francisco votes no to facial-recognition tech for cops, govt – while its denizens create it

San Francisco has become the first major city in America, if not the world, to effectively ban, for now, facial recognition technology and other forms of state surveillance. In an 8-1 vote on Tuesday, the city's Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance that requires all local government departments – including the police – …

  1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Well, they would do, wouldn't they?

    "The tech industry-backed Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has been arguing against such a ban and pushing back against fears of surveillance for several years with a series of talking points."

    That's like arms manufacturers lobbying for more wars to improve stability, "healthcare" insurance companies arguing that medicare for all would harm citizens, short sellers and foreign trade groups announcing that Brexit is a good thing, and Welsh men saying the economy would benefit with more sheep in Wales!

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    It can be done

    This is perhaps the first example of such an ordinance, and I hope it leads to many more. Those who profess to support such legislation but don't do anything about it because they think it's not going to pass may now see that it can be done and get going on spreading such restrictions. Here's hoping they do so across all cities, countries, and continents.

  3. FrankAlphaXII
    Thumb Down

    One rule for me, another for thee...

    Seems to be the Bay Area mantra.

    Sure, they'll fuck everything up for you, but don't count on seeing any of the bullshit they're inflicting on the rest of the world there because they're too preciously diverse and woke for it. Outside of California its foreign policy, amirite?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: One rule for me, another for thee...

      But the article says the tech people were against this bill.

      The people who passed the law are not the ones creating all this suveilance tech.. after all, they're too "preciously diverse and woke" to do that!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and in other news...

    The SFO offices of the various Federal TLA's (FBI, NSA etc) will be inreasing the use of Facial recognition in the City of San Francisco due to its new found fame as a home for leaders of Serious and Organised Crime operations. The recent 300% increase in 'Italian' and 'Russian' owned businesses was one factor cited by an unnamed insider.

    Just speculation you understand...

    1. dew3

      Re: and in other news...

      Note, the San Francisco county sheriff is an elected position separate from the San Francisco Police, and apparently the new ordinance allows the sheriff to use the tech if they feel they need to. There are also California state law enforcement agencies. If you are going to speculate, there is plenty of opportunity for mischief before any feds get involved.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. notamole

      Re: At the risk of being cynical...

      Plenty to fear actually. Since when has the government not abused surveillance? The first place this will be used is at protests.

    2. VonDutch

      Re: At the risk of being cynical...

      Until they have to do the standard press release because they forked up:

      Our Customers, who art worldwide,

      We take the protection of your personal data very seriously,

      and we are committed to protecting the privacy and security of all the data entrusted to us,

      For ever and ever,


      (Credit to Alister)

      1. Alister
        Thumb Up

        Re: At the risk of being cynical...


  6. jmch Silver badge

    The way policy really works...

    "do you allow such technologies to be introduced and then consider where to scale them back based on experience, or do you ban them and only allow their introduction after lengthy discussion? "

    In practice once the police / security services etc have gotten their hands on such technology they will fight tooth and nail, and lie to, bully and blackmail whoever is required to make sure it is never ever scaled back. So kudos to San Francisco, that is the way to go. (Actually, I would add one more step, which is that any eventual 'permission' is granted only for a limited time and can only be renewed based on a study of the results)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The way policy really works...

      "Actually, I would add one more step, which is that any eventual 'permission' is granted only for a limited time and can only be renewed based on a study of the results"

      I'd go a step further than that and require review of what was in place before the ban.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    A loophole glaring:

    Some enterprising is going to install cameras everywhere, for some form of consideration, use facial recognition and sell that information to interested agencies. What the Hell, (surveillance) capitalism in action.

    1. Velv
      Big Brother

      Re: A loophole glaring:

      The cynical, while noting that outwardly the industry was against the bill, understand that the loophole covering private enterprise was included specifically to permit San Francisco based companies to develop and offer the surveillance services.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I understand correctly

    the government is not allowed to use surveillance technologies but they can get all the info they want from private business which are using such tech to spy on the citizens. So it's not that bad news after all.

  9. Phil Parker

    Presumably, this will apply to coppers recognising known felons and they will be required to have their memories wiped every few weeks? Surely this is also a version of face recognition.

    1. JohnFen

      Only if they have somehow figured out a way to tap into the officer's brains to suck that data into a database.

  10. Mike 16

    Public / Private Partnership

    I'd expect a number of "research organizations" will spring up to study surveillance tech. They'll need a lot of test data so will contract with local businesses (and public libraries, etc.) to share the data collected from devices "on loan". The Authorities will see an uptick in useful "anonymous tips", and the whole thing will be funded either by skimming a bit off the "Widows and Orphans Fund", or under some obscure title in the 500 page "Unicorn Preservation, Rainbow Appreciation, and Omnibus Funding Bill", passed at 4AM in an extraordinary session, after being introduced at 2AM.

    Shortly thereafter, a number of people who look a bit too much like stock photos of terrorists may mysteriously disappear.

  11. JohnFen

    THis is a great step

    Here's hoping more cities and even states will get on board.

  12. Great Bu

    Olfactory ?

    Does that mean that I'm on some CIA database somewhere for my "emissions" ?

  13. Herby

    Eyewitness Identification?

    Isn't this "facial-recognition". using an alternative computing processor (human brain)? Would this be illegal as well?

    Legal briefs to follow...

    1. Thrudd the Barbarian

      Re: Eyewitness Identification?

      Which style are legal these days?



      Boxer Breifs




      Mankinie .... uh I really hope not .. (shudder)

      Budgie smugglers ... more than likely illegal due to the smuggling aspect and possibly avian abuse.

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