Lawmakers in San Francisco have passed a bill to ban the use of facial recognition technology in surveillance by local agencies.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pass “the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance” that prohibits city and county law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition systems. The measure, which passed in an 8-1 vote, makes San Francisco the first U.S. city to outlaw the use of such technology for surveillance.
California law requires two votes for an ordinance to go into effect, but the second vote is at this point is largely seen as a formality. After the bill receives the board’s final sign-off next week, San Francisco’s facial-recognition ban will go into effect 30 days later.
The ordinance, introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, also would require city departments to get public input and board approval for acquiring any new surveillance technology and audits on the city’s existing surveillance technology, including license plate readers and surveillance cameras.
While San Francisco is the first to ban facial recognition, similar proposals are under consideration in Oakland and in Somerville, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. The Massachusetts Senate also is considering a bill that would put a moratorium on the use of facial recognition until new regulations are enacted.