San Francisco police rally opposition to proposed law mostly banning public facial biometrics

A committee of San Francisco’s board of supervisors heard a proposal to ban facial recognition technology from the city this week in a meeting attended by various supporters and critics of the ban, Gizmodo reports.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) did not participate in the hearing, but has emailed supporters a draft letter to be completed and sent to local lawmakers expressing concern with the proposal and supporting amendments suggested by local crime-prevention group Stop Crime SF. Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who filed the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance in January, says he has received numerous identical emails from the SFPOA campaign.

The form letter warns of excessive bureaucracy hindering the police and other agencies, and criticizes a perceived lack of input from the security community in the ordinance. The amendments suggested by Stop Crime SF include a one-year sunset clause and exemptions for large facilities such as the city’s airport, port, and baseball stadium Oracle Park.

Peskin says opposition from police defeated a proposal in California’s State Senate similar to the San Francisco ordinance, according to Gizmodo.

“We can have good security without a security state and we can have good policing without a police state,” Peskin said.

The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance does not apply to home or private business security systems, though the SFPOA email mentions that both groups need to be consulted.

Legislation to limit facial recognition is also being considered at both the federal and state level in the U.S.

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