Legislators in San Francisco have voted to ban the use of facial recognition. This makes San Francisco the first U.S. city to prohibit the tech from being used by the city’s transport authority or law enforcement. And, moving forward, any kind of new surveillance tech will need to be approved by city administrators.

The vote was passed by San Francisco’s supervisors 8-1, with two absentees. The measure is expected to be officially passed into city law after a second vote next week.1


However, those in favor say the technology as it exists today is not only unreliable but an “unnecessary infringement on people’s privacy and liberty.”1 The systems are error prone, particularly when dealing with women or people with darker skin. Matt Cagle from the American Civil Liberties Union in Northern California said,

“With this vote, San Francisco has declared that face surveillance technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy and that residents deserve a voice in decisions about high-tech surveillance. We applaud the city for listening to the community, and leading the way forward with this crucial legislation. Other cities should take note and set up similar safeguards to protect people’s safety and civil rights.”1


Opponents believe this decision will hinder crime fighting and put people’s safety at risk. The new rules about the tech won’t apply to security measures at San Francisco’s airport or sea port.



  1. BBC