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San Francisco First U.S. City to Ban Facial Recognition Tech – Should More Cities?

Should more cities ban facial recognition software?

by Countable | 5.15.19

What’s the story?

  • San Francisco lawmakers voted Tuesday to bar city police and municipal agencies from using facial recognition software.
  • The law defines facial recognition technology as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face.”

What does the "Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance" bill do?

  • Bans face recognition tech by the city government.
  • Requires departments that want to use the technology to first submit proposals and post public notices.
  • Federal law enforcement officials are exempt from the bill, so agencies like the TSA will be unaffected.

What are people saying?


  • “I think part of San Francisco being the real and perceived headquarters for all things tech also comes with a responsibility for its local legislators,” said Aaron Peskin, the city supervisor who sponsored the bill.
“We have an outsize responsibility to regulate the excesses of technology precisely because they are headquartered here.”


  • “It is ridiculous to deny the value of this technology in securing airports and border installations,” Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University, told the New York Times.
“It is hard to deny that there is a public safety value to this technology.”

What do you think?

Should more cities ban facial recognition software? Or do the potential safety benefits outweigh any privacy concerns? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: iStock / eternalcreative)


Written by Countable

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