San Francisco leaders ban the use of facial recognition software

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors have voted to ban the use of facial recognition, the first US city to do so. The developing technology will not be allowed to be used by local agencies, such as the city’s transport authority, or even police.

Additionally, any plans to buy any kind of new surveillance technology must now be approved by city administrators.

Opponents of the measure said it will put people’s safety at risk and hinder efforts to fight crime.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mimms told CBS47 Investigative Reporter Erik Rosales, “We have gone to other departments to use facial recognition software to help solve crimes. I’m not talking about scanning everyone’s face to violate anyone’s civil rights, but it has a very practical law enforcement application where it helps us keep people safe.”

Mimms says that’s why it’s being used at airports, and even on our cell phones.

The convenience of facial recognition technology is part of our daily lives.

But the efficiency and convenience has critics asking if the possibility of being tracked and identified is worth the risk?

The American Civil Liberties Union says no way.

Matt Cagle, technology and civil liberties attorney for the ACLU says, “Facial recognition is biased against people of color and often inaccurate.” 

The ACLU points to its test of Amazon’s facial recognition program as proof after scanning images of members of Congress and comparing them to archived arrest photos.

Twenty-eight lawmakers were incorrectly matched, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  

Cagle says, “Facial recognition software in the hands of police will fan the flames of discriminatory policing.”

Law enforcement CBS47 spoke with disagree with that statement.

Sheriff Mimms says her department is looking into the software, and how it will work with the current system.

She adds cost is always a determining factor.

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