Oakland, California On Its Way To Becoming The Third US City To Ban Facial Recognition Tech
from the beat-it,-face-jockeys dept
For the third time in two months, a US city has banned the use of facial recognition tech by local government agencies.
San Francisco started this movement (oh god please let it be a movement) back in May, booting the tech out of the city before local agencies had even gotten a chance to fool around with it. Earlier this month, Somerville, Massachusetts took home the silver in the anti-surveillance-state games, enacting a local ban on facial recognition tech.
Oakland, California has become the third city in the nation move forward with a facial recognition tech ban, as KPIX reports:
The city of Oakland on Tuesday took a first step towards banning the use of facial recognition technology by city employees, including the Oakland Police Department.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, which would prohibit police from both acquiring the software or using it at all, including if used by other police agencies.
This won’t become official until September, when the council will reconvene for a second — and final — vote on the ordinance. It seems unlikely a majority of councilmembers will switch positions in the next 60 days, so local agencies with an eye on acquiring this tech should probably put those dreams to bed.
This ban appears to be slightly broader than those enacted elsewhere. It forbids government agencies from using the tech even when partnering with non-city agencies that might have this tech in their possession.
And a little homework goes a long way. The city council’s president wrote a report on all the downsides of facial recognition tech, including its lack of accuracy and its tendency to err more often when attempting to identify minorities.
This ban will cramp the Oakland PD’s style a bit. It already uses facial recognition tech via a database owned by the San Mateo County Sheriff. It argued that it should still be allowed to do this, but the council disagreed, voting for a ban that locks them out of the Sheriff’s database. Hopefully, that language will be retained when it comes up for a final vote in September.