Lawmakers in San Francisco are considering a proposal to ban the use of facial recognition technology by city agencies.
The proposal, introduced by city board member Aaron Peskin, would set into place a new approval process that all companies would have to pass before utilizing any new surveillance technology.
This would force companies to justify the use of controversial surveillance tools such as license plate readers, gunshot-detection systems, and CCTV cameras.
Peskin’s proposal calls for an audit of all existing surveillance tech in use in the city but does not address the issue of private surveillance in public areas or the use of surveillance tools by law enforcement.
“I have yet to be persuaded that there is any beneficial use of this technology that outweighs the potential for government actors to use it for coercive and oppressive ends,” said Peskin in reference to facial recognition technology.
If his proposal passes, it would make San Francisco the first US city to ban its own agencies from using facial recognition tech
“This is the first piece of legislation that I’ve seen that really takes facial recognition technology as serious as it is warranted and treats it as uniquely dangerous,” said Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University.
“Moratoriums and bans prevent the technology from getting embedded in everything,” continued Hartzog. “Abuse doesn’t happen at the outset. It happens when the technology becomes entrenched and dismantling it becomes unimaginable.”
Unfortunately, things are already at this level in China.
Editor’s note: Do we sacrifice our freedom for a small amount of added security?
We forget the horrors of Orwell’s 1984, and the dystopian possibilities that are becoming reality in other parts of the world (ESPECIALLY China!).
Making things more convenient for law enforcement is generally considered a good thing, in the here and now. However general surveillance of people not suspected of a crime is a sure way to totalitarianism, the dreaded 1984 scenario, where “what is not forbidden is required” and freedom of choice and action does not exist.
Take note, friends, this is one of those rare times that I actually agree with the folks in California. Doesn’t happen often.