San Francisco bans facial recognition technology

In a move that comes as a relief to advocates of privacy, legislators in San Francisco on Tuesday voted to ban the use of facial recognition, reports say.

This means local agencies including law enforcement cannot use this surveillance technology.

Under the new rule, no new surveillance technology can be bought without approval from city administrators.

Critics say the ban on the police use of facial recognition will put public safety at risk and foil efforts to catch criminals.

Supporters of the ban argue the existing technology to recognise faces is questionable and is an invasion of people’s privacy.

Lawmakers approved the ban with an 8-1 vote on Tuesday.

Two legislators were absent for the vote.

After the bill passes a second vote, it will move to the mayor’s office for his signature.

Tuesday’s vote sent a message that facial-recognition surveillance is incompatible with a healthy democracy and residents’ voices about such ‘Big Brother’ surveillance should be heard, a spokesman of the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The group hoped other cities set up similar safeguards to protect people’s safety and civil rights.

However, the ban will not apply to security measures at the city airport or sea port as they are run by federal agencies.