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San Francisco bans facial recognition use by police and govt

AFP  |  San Francisco 

has banned the use of by police and government agencies, the first US city to take such a step as fears mount in the country's capital.

Backers of the legislation argued that using software and cameras to positively identify people is, as put it, "not ready for prime time." All but of San Francisco's board of supervisors endorsed the legislation, which will be voted on again next week in a procedural step not expected to change the outcome.

"The propensity for to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits," read the legislation passed Tuesday.

could "exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring," it added.

The ban was part of broader legislation setting use and auditing policy for surveillance systems, creating high hurdles and requiring board approval for any city agencies.

"It shall be unlawful for any department to obtain, retain, access, or use any or any information obtained from Face Recognition Technology," read a paragraph tucked into the lengthy document.

The ban did not include airports or other federally regulated facilities. is known as "the tech epicenter of the world," and its Bay Area is home to giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and parent

A similar ban is being considered across the bay in the city of Worries about the technology include dangers of innocent people being misidentified as wrongdoers and that systems can infringe on in everyday life.

But supporters of the technology argue that can help police fight crime and keep streets safer.

Stop Crime SF, a group, said facial recognition "can help locate missing children, people with dementia and fight sex trafficking".

"Technology will improve and it could be a useful tool for public safety when used responsibly and with greater accuracy. We should keep the door open for that possibility," it said in a statement.

The technology has been credited with helping police capture dangerous criminals, but also criticized for mistaken identifications.

Facial recognition "can be used in a passive way that doesn't require the knowledge, consent, or participation of the subject," the warned.

"The biggest danger is that this technology will be used for general, suspicionless " Chinese authorities are using a vast system of to track its Uighur Muslim minority across the country, according to a recent story in

has already attracted widespread criticism for its treatment of Uighurs in the northwest region of Xinjiang, where up to one million members of mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minority groups are held in internment camps, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.

But according to article, -- integrated into China's huge networks of surveillance cameras -- has been programmed to look exclusively for Uighurs based on their appearance and keep records of their movements across

It is thought to be the first known example of a government intentionally using AI for racial profiling.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 16:11 IST