As San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Tech By Local Cops, New York City's Legislators Stall On Transparency Reforms

from the rein-it-in-now-or-regret-it-forever dept

Earlier this month, the San Francisco city council passed the first ban on facial recognition tech use by city agencies in the US. While other cities have scaled back government use of surveillance tech by introducing measures requiring public input periods and approval by city legislators, San Francisco is the only one to ban the tech outright. And it did so prior to any deployment by local agencies, managing to be one of the few governments to have ever have closed a barn door while horses were still in the barn.

Elsewhere in the nation, not much is happening. In one of the most-surveilled cities in the United States -- New York City -- bills attempting to rein in the NYPD's enthusiasm for surveillance tech are going nowhere. This is from the New York Times Editorial Board:

New York City’s own bill to regulate the use of this technology languishes in committee.

That legislation, the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act, was first introduced in 2017. It was introduced again last year with the backing of 17 out of 51 council members. Unlike the ordinances in San Francisco and Oakland, the New York City bill requires only that the police disclose basic information about the technology that is being deployed. It does not condition the use of new surveillance technology on the approval of the City Council.

This is a city that loves its cameras and add-ons. Not so much the public, perhaps, but they're not really part of the equation in the largest city in the US. Current mayor Bill de Blasio says public disclosure would just allow the bad guys to win. His predecessor often acted as an extension of the NYPD, opposing any form of transparency or accountability foisted on the department, even if said foisting comes from a federal judge.

There are numerous reasons new surveillance tech should be rolled out carefully and with transparency. Facial recognition tech is unproven. It tends to rack up false positives at an alarming rate and there appears to be very little vetting done by government agencies before they start throwing money at tech companies offering this software.

It's not impossible to hold law enforcement agencies more accountable to the public. You just have to want to do it. There's a roadmap in this post about San Francisco's new ban on facial recognition tech showing it can be done. But in New York City, the council is on the fence and the mayor's openly opposed to it. A city of this size that has been "served" by a self-serving police department for its entire history has an uphill battle ahead of it. But there's no reason legislators should back down. They're supposed to represent the residents of the city, not a single government agency that wields an outsized amount of power.

Filed Under: facial recognition, new york city, san francisco


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2019 @ 4:56pm

    East coast vs. West coast?

    Interesting contrast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nitishbajaj75 (profile), 23 May 2019 @ 12:27am

    cbse preschools near bavdhan pune

    GGIS Atha, the beginning is the wing of GG International School where we understand you, your care, your tenderness and your aspiration
    in giving your precious child a loving and empowered childhood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2019 @ 6:10am

    Can kicking

    These cases will go to the Supreme Court, and they’ll kick them back to the states. Nothing new here; move along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 23 May 2019 @ 7:59am

    Fear Sells - We Must Surrender Our Liberties or We'll all Die

    Current mayor Bill de Blasio says public disclosure would just allow the bad guys to win.

    That's it.

    End of debate.

    The cowardly mayor (ie lion) of nyc bill de blasio has spoken using knee dwelling genuflectors code in an attempt to squelch public debate on matters of public import.

    If we do not surrender our liberties the bad guys will win - again.

    It is simply a matter of defining who the bad guys really are.

    Are the bad guys shadow boogeymen called into existence from the pitch dark depths of some power hungry politician or bureaucrats delusion?

    Or

    Are the bad guys the politicians/bureaucrats who use specious pretenses to project a narrative of fear in order to brow beat and coerce people into relinquishing their rights (and tax money) while further empowering themselves at the public trough?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AnonyOps, 23 May 2019 @ 9:17pm

      Re: Fear Sells - We Must Surrender Our Liberties or We'll all Di

      Think of the children who will be harmed if we don't implement 24hr face scanning warrant detection system for all the freeloading poor plebs who haven't a pot to piss in or a private defender in times of legal distress.

      Think of the bank accounts of the 4 profit prison industry, they gotta eat too unlike the homeless and poor whose meals they are stealing while being taken to a human cage for dumpster diving for scraps.

      Think of the overtime costs the city must endure to clean up after the homeless peons and serfs who urinate and poop on the streets while acting like raggedy bojangle transients, they don't need the overtime costs nor does the public need to bear hearing about how a businessman was inconvenienced during his walk to lunch by a panhandler.

      Think of the businessman whose life was disrupted by the panhandler who caused him to miss his 1 1/2 hour lunch time by not getting seated on time which makes him late for work at the bank and causes him to get reprimanded or fired....

      You know the little people...they stepped on to get so high in life by panhandling and dumpster diving near schools n such....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.