San Francisco prohibits the use of face recognition by the police

San Francisco – a tech-forward metropolis that nevertheless finds penetrating face recognition (FR) as "psychologically uncomfortable" – became the first major American city to ban police use of technology on Tuesday.

Aaron Peskin, the city administrator who sponsored the bill, told the New York Times that the 8-to-1 vote of the Board of Supervisors is sending a powerful message to the nation coming from a city whose DNA has been rewritten by technology.

Many of these technologies are born here and their parent companies live here, he said. So it is a bit up to San Francisco to control them when they do amok, he said:

I think part of San Francisco is the real headquarters for all techies, also with a responsibility for its local legislators. We have an oversized responsibility to regulate the excesses of technology precisely because they have their headquarters here.

Peskin pointed out that the shortcomings of FR mean that it leads to frequent wrong identifications. Example: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tested facial recognition technology used by the police in Orlando, Florida, and discovered that it wrongly brought 28 members of Congress together with mosquito shots.

So many other cases in the field of this error-prone technology. Here's one: after two years of pathetic failure rates when they used it at Notting Hill Carnival, the London Metropolitan Police finally threw in the towel in 2018. In 2017, the "top-of-the-line" AFR system was that they had tried for two years couldn't even distinguish the difference between a young woman and a balding man.