San Francisco vote could lead to facial recognition ban

With its Board of Supervisors poised to vote today, San Francisco may become the first city in the U.S. to ban police and city agencies from using facial recognition technology.

The use of facial recognition technology has become more prevalent in recent years with proponents praising its importance in helping law enforcement solve crime and opponents decrying the potential for privacy violations and racial bias.

“It’s good to see legislators and others taking technological innovations seriously – especially in terms of this one-to-many use case where facial recognition might be used to pick a face out of a crowd,” said Sam Bakken, senior product marketing manager at OneSpan. 

But his colleague, John Gunn, CMO at OneSpan, called a potential vote against facial recognition “backwards thinking when it comes to public safety and an equally illogical argument could be made against using fingerprints and DNA evidence, which are also left behind without intent or permission, but are instrumental in providing leads that solve countless crimes and bring violent criminals to justice.”

Gunn noted, “We have a constitutional presumption of innocence that protects us. If facial recognition or finger print matching or DNA testing provides clues to law enforcement agencies, they should not be barred from following up on them.”

Bakken cautioned lawmakers to remember “that one-to-one use cases such as that facilitated by Apple Face ID and other technology whereby a user willingly enrolls in the system to allow them to unlock their phone or log-in to other accounts using their face makes it easy and convenient for consumers to add an additional layer of security to their mobile devices and accounts.”

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.