5 Years After San Francisco Banned Face Recognition, Voters Ask for More Surveillance | EUROtoday

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San Francisco made historical past in 2019 when its Board of Supervisors voted to ban metropolis companies together with the police division from utilizing face recognition. About two dozen different US cities have since adopted go well with. But on Tuesday San Francisco voters appeared to show towards the concept of proscribing police expertise, backing a poll proposition that may make it simpler for metropolis police to deploy drones and different surveillance instruments.

Proposition E handed with 60 p.c of the vote and was backed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed. It provides the San Francisco Police Department new freedom to put in public safety cameras and deploy drones with out oversight from town’s Police Commission or Board of Supervisors. It additionally loosens a requirement that SFPD get clearance from the Board of Supervisors earlier than adopting new surveillance expertise, permitting approval to be sought any time inside the first yr.

Matt Cagle, a senior workers legal professional with ACLU of Northern California, says these adjustments go away the prevailing ban on face recognition in place however loosen different essential protections. “We’re concerned that Proposition E will result in people in San Francisco being subject to unproven and dangerous technology,” he says. “This is a cynical attempt by powerful interests to exploit fears about crime and shift more power to the police.”

Mayor Breed and different backers have positioned it as a solution to concern about crime in San Francisco. Crime figures have broadly declined however fentanyl has not too long ago pushed a rise in overdose deaths and industrial downtown neighborhoods are nonetheless fighting pandemic-driven workplace and retail vacancies. The proposition was additionally supported by teams related to the tech trade, together with marketing campaign group GrowSF, which didn’t reply to a request for remark.

“By supporting the work of our police officers, expanding our use of technology and getting officers out from behind their desks and onto our streets, we will continue in our mission to make San Francisco a safer city,” Mayor Breed mentioned in a press release on the proposition passing. She famous that 2023 noticed the bottom crime charges in a decade within the metropolis—apart from a pandemic blip in 2020—with charges of property crime and violent crime persevering with to say no additional in 2024.

Proposition E additionally provides police extra freedom to pursue suspects in automotive chases and reduces paperwork obligations, together with when officers resort to make use of of drive.

Caitlin Seeley George, managing director and marketing campaign director for Fight for the Future, a nonprofit that has lengthy campaigned towards the usage of face recognition, calls the proposition “a blow to the hard-fought reforms that San Francisco has championed in recent years to rein in surveillance.”

“By expanding police use of surveillance technology, while simultaneously reducing oversight and transparency, it undermines peoples’ rights and will create scenarios where people are at greater risk of harm,” George says.

Although Cagle of ACLU shares her considerations that San Francisco residents will likely be much less protected, he says town ought to retain its repute for having catalyzed a US-wide pushback towards surveillance. San Francisco’s 2019 face recognition ban was adopted by round two dozen different cities, a lot of which additionally added new oversight mechanisms for police surveillance.