Aaron Peskin, a representative from San Francisco’s District 3 serving on the city’s Board of Supervisors, plans to introduce legislation banning government use of facial recognition technology, according to the Verge. The proposal is called Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, and it would also require organizations to seek approval from the Board of Supervisors before implementing the technology.
In an effort to make sure that the facial recognition technology that is approved to be used is used appropriately, the proposal also includes annual audits of surveillance technology. This would only apply to private organizations, as the staple of the proposal is a blanket ban on facial recognition in government departments.
The blanket ban would keep law enforcement agencies like the police department, who many are concerned will abuse the technology through racial profiling, from being able to purchase or use facial recognition. Its use has been criticized by many due to its innate bias and consistent errors that could be used discriminatorily if used by the wrong organizations.
AI is based on machine learning, meaning that it looks at patterns formed in past information to make predictions like a human may. This could create a problem with discrimination, as people of color are more likely to be stopped by police and incarcerated. An AI could analyze this pattern of discrimination that is already in place, and use it to make predictions in its algorithm, resulting in further racial bias.
Microsoft has called on lawmakers to form laws that put limits on the scope of facial recognition, whether that means an outright ban or just strict regulations designed to prevent abuse of the technology.
Peskin’s bill will be heard by the Board of Supervisors next month and has already gained support from major organizations that champion anti-discrimination policies like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).