eBulletin: San Francisco Supervisors Vote to Restrict Use of Facial Recognition Technology by Police and Local Government Agencies

Joshua de Larios-Heiman, CIPP/US, Managing Director and Senior Privacy Counsel
Data Law

On May 6, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 to pass the “Stop Secret Surveillance” Ordinance severely limiting facial recognition technology by the San Francisco Police department and other City government agencies. The Ordinance is the first of its type in the United States and is expected to go into effect 30 days after its passing.

The Ordinance:

  • Amended the Administrative Code to require that City departments acquiring surveillance technology, or entering into agreements to receive information from non-City owned surveillance technology, submit a Board of Supervisors approved Surveillance Technology Policy Ordinance, based on a policy or policies developed by the Committee on Information Technology (COIT), and a Surveillance Impact Report to the Board in connection with any request to appropriate funds for the purchase of such technology or to accept and expend grant funds for such purpose, or otherwise to procure surveillance technology equipment or services.
  • Requires each City department that owns and operates existing surveillance technology equipment or services to submit to the Board a proposed Surveillance Technology Policy Ordinance governing the use of the surveillance technology.
  • Requires the Controller, as City Services Auditor, to audit annually the use of surveillance technology equipment or services and the conformity of such use with an approved Surveillance Technology Policy Ordinance and provide an audit report to the Board of Supervisors.

A link to the full ordinance (FILE NO. 190110) may be found here.