San Francisco Adjusts Facial Recognition Ban

December 13, 2019

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to amend its ban on city agencies' use of facial recognition technology by shielding municipal employees who use software or devices containing facial recognition technology from lawsuits.

The employees still cannot use facial recognition technology.  However, the city found the technology cannot be removed from some of the devices employees need to work.  The amendment only applies to city-issued devices.

The amendment will be sent to the mayor following a final vote on December 17.  San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) is expected to sign it.

Why it matters:  Following San Francisco's lead, some states and towns are considering bans on facial recognition technology.  Oakland, Berkeley, and Somerville, MA, already have.  This trend is sure to raise questions about workplace practices.  The Board's move illustrates several challenges of legislating on the issue, not least of all being jurisdictional questions and how pervasive the technology has become.