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Voters likely pass facial recognition freedoms for police in San Francisco

Voters likely pass facial recognition freedoms for police in San Francisco

In a move that is not particularly surprising, California lawmakers are pushing along legislation that would tighten rules on police use of facial recognition.

Other states generally have been become fans of biometric surveillance by law enforcement while the California legislature has tended to tilt the other direction. Again, not unthinkable.

More surprising, though, is how San Francisco continues to turn the opposite direction as the state legislature on the issue.

A city ballot measure voted on this week, Proposition E, likely passed, and if so, it will significantly deregulate the use of face biometrics by police in the city. Prop E also frees cops from other rules they dislike.

The measure was put on the ballot by Mayor London Breed, who has made many monied friends by consistently and vocally saying crime in the city can and should be minimized by giving officers the freedom and tools to jail criminals.

By midweek, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, 60 percent of tallied votes backed Breed’s proposition. (Not all ballots were counted by deadline.)

Among the deregulations in the measure, the police would be free to get any surveillance systems they want without first getting city approval and to use them for a year before having to come up with rules for their use.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, capital of the state, Assemblyman Phil Ting continues to advance a bill (AB1814) that would rein in use of face-matching. It cleared the Public Safety Committee but has a long way to go for ratification.

State and local police officers would be prohibited from using face-matching results as the sole basis for probable cause in an arrest, search or warrant. They would still be able to use photo databases without biometric algorithm help.

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