As the first city in the US, San Francisco has banned the use of facial recognition by authorities. The danger that such technologies could violate civil rights far outweighs the alleged benefits, the city council of the Californian metropolis decided on Tuesday (local time). The use of facial recognition threatens to exacerbate racist injustice and "threatens our ability to live free from constant government scrutiny," states the resolution.
The city police and other city authorities may not, according to the decision, acquire, possess or use any facial recognition technology. Airports or other facilities operated by the federal authorities are exempted from the ban.
Critics argue that facial recognition systems are a powerful invasion of privacy. In addition, there is a risk that innocent people could be wrongly identified as offenders. The US civil rights organization ACLU warns that the technology can be monitored nationwide indiscriminately and without any specific suspicion or clue.
error in the system
Advocates of the technology counter that face recognition help the police in the fight against crime and create more security.
According to a report in the New York Times, the Chinese authorities use face recognition to monitor members of the Uyghur Muslim minority nationwide. As a result, China's vast network of surveillance cameras has been programmed to allow facial recognition to filter Uighurs for their looks.
But this system obviously does not work without errors. By the end of 2018, a case had become known in which facial recognition software in the Chinese city of Ningbo had failed completely: the system mistook an advertising photograph on a passing bus with the head of a large air conditioning group.