We welcome the city of San Francisco’s decision to ban the use of AI-enabled facial recognition technology by police and other municipal agencies. Facial recognition technology is prone to misidentification and biased targeting, particularly among members of vulnerable communities. It also opens the door to intrusive surveillance -- beyond the scope of existing technology. Until the technology improves to avoid such harms, its use should be heavily restricted. And even with improvements, the public must confront tough questions about how closely governments should monitor their behavior.

Regrettably, global trends are headed in a reverse direction from San Francisco’s decision. From Azerbaijan to Singapore, governments are enthusiastically embracing facial recognition technology. Led by China, such systems are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Facial recognition has been incorporated into smart city platforms. Cities are placing them on public lampposts and integrating them into security operations centers. While there is greater public awareness of China’s surveillance strategy – particularly its establishment of artificial intelligence-powered facial recognition repression in Xinjiang -- few realize that numerous other countries are developing facial recognition capabilities as well....

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This article was originally published in Tech Dirt.