San Francisco officials on Tuesday voted to ban the purchase and use of facial recognition technology by city personnel.
The Board of Supervisors approved the Stop Secret Surveillance ordinance, which would require city departments to submit surveillance technology policies for public vetting. It could become final after a second vote next week by the same officials, the city’s Board of Supervisors.
The law does not prohibit companies or individuals from using facial recognition cameras or other surveillance tools, or from sharing their contents with law enforcement during an investigation.
There has been increasing discontent in the United States over facial recognition, which government agencies have used for years and now has become more powerful with the rise of cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies.
Amazon.com Inc has come under scrutiny since last year for selling an image analysis and ID service to law enforcement. Researchers have said this service struggles to identify the gender of individuals with darker skin, prompting fears of unjust arrests. Amazon has defended its work and said all users must follow the law.
Civil rights groups and companies including Microsoft Corp, which markets a facial recognition service, have called for regulation of the technology in recent months.
U.S. customs agents are vetting foreign travelers at airports with facial recognition, and other federal agencies use the technology too.
San Francisco’s new law will also require police to confirm the results of their license-plate reader with the California Department of Justice before detaining individuals.