Did San Francisco Get It Right? Bans Facial Recognition


An anti-surveillance ordinance recently enacted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors bans the use of facial recognition by government departments — including law enforcement. This begs the question: is this more left-coast lawlessness or a reasonable check on police powers?

The supervisors and the liberal-leaning ACLU argue that the rule will prevent law enforcement from spying on their citizens. City Supervisor, Aaron Peskin, even likens its use to a “police state” according to CNN Business.

On the other side, groups like Stop Crime SF feel that it takes a vital weapon out of the police crime-fighting arsenal. There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the debate.

It’s easy to imagine this ordinance becoming a nightmare with governments tracking people who have the “wrong” political ideology. It’s equally easy to see how the technology could be used to track down criminals and terrorists, perhaps in a situation like the Boston Marathon bombings with a myriad of cameras around the event. In the end, it’s quite likely the courts will end up making the initial decisions with the various governmental bodies crafting laws to fit those rulings.

What do you think? Should facial recognition be used or can we trust the government to use it only for criminals?