Facial recognition technology’s incorporation into local government is concerning for many. In a bold move, San Francisco lawmakers proposed banning local government use of facial recognition technology, as reported by The Atlantic.
The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance would restrict all city departments from using facial-recognition technology. In addition, they would need board approval to purchase new surveillance devices.
The proposal specifically highlights concerns around how the technology endangers Black and brown communities, stating, “The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits, and the technology will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring.”
Facial recognition technology is already used by some law enforcement agencies. Documents revealed Amazon’s Rekognition is in use by police in Orlando and Oregon, despite the program’s inability to recognize Black people.
Some have argued the solution is teaching facial recognition technology how to see Black people. However, any technology used in surveillance will eventually be forced to do so. That does nothing to address the underlying issue of how Black communities are over-policed and mass surveilled.
A rule banning local government from using facial recognition technology could dramatically shift the tides in the fight for data control.