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San Francisco bans facial recognition tech

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Anton Watman)

San Francisco's city agencies, including the police department, can no longer use facial recognition technology. This was confirmed by the city's supervisor Aaron Peskin, as California introduces its seventh major surveillance oversight.

According to TechCrunch (opens in new tab), this is the first ban of its kind in a major American city. The ban came after an 8-1 vote by the Board of Supervisors.

“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,” Mr. Peskin told the New York Times (opens in new tab). “We have an outsize responsibility to regulate the excesses of technology precisely because they are headquartered here.”

Facial recognition may be a cool technology, but raises many ethical and moral questions. Oakland, as well as Somerville, Massachusetts, are both considering similar legislation.

So, what does this mean for the technology?

Basically, nothing. It's not a technology ban. Companies can still develop it, people can still use it. It's just city agencies that are not allowed to use new facial recognition technology. The tech they have – like body cameras and whatnot – they can continue using those.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is using this technolgoy in airports and sea ports. Even Taylor Swift uses facial recognition on her shows to look for registered stalkers (opens in new tab).

Image source: Shutterstock/Anton Watman

Sead Fadilpašić
Sead Fadilpašić

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.