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San Francisco bans facial recognition technology by municipal agencies (nytimes.com)
199 points by dcschelt 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments





seeing plenty of comments along the lines of "don't they have better things to do?"

please remember that there are coalitions of activists advocating multiple issues for civil rights simultaneously, and that a victory in one area (e.g. fighting the surveillance state) is neither mutually exclusive nor to the detriment of another equal or greater social ill (e.g. homelessness).

In the meantime, enjoy these videos of what they're doing with facial recognition in China:

(Social credit system) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkw15LkZ_Kw

(broad piece on facial recognition): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH2gMNrUuEY


I'm happy to see this, but it's not really going to stop the inevitable rise of the police state. They _will_ find other methods that aren't using facial recognition technology. I hear that gait recognition is quite accurate.

No one step will stop a police state, but many small things may.

Democracies operate in small steps rather than broad strokes like totalitarian states.


> I hear that gait recognition is quite accurate.

I used to recognize my friends in a crowd by their gait before I got glasses. It could be better than faces in some ways.


I'll have to remember to skip while jaywalking

It's becoming possible to accurately estimate anthropometry from any footage of a person moving, so this still identifies you.

Would putting like rocks or small tacks in my shoes be enough to throw this off?

No, because estimating anthropometry is not gait analysis. It's about working out the relative lengths of your skeletal structure, which is unique in every individual and cannot be concealed by movement.

Start walking barefoot maybe? You'll stop heel striking and will likely change gait completely. People will also start to think you're loony too, which has it's ups and downs.

Who needs biometrics when they can track your phone just by asking nicely?

But they need to know who to track.

I believe they can get phones from a certain area but need a warrant.


There is no police state in SF. It is quite the opposite. Crime is rampant and criminals know the police don't bother going after non-life threatening crimes (e.g., car break-ins are rampant all over the Bay Area now).

I for one prefer the rise of the police state. Have you been to China lately? Amazingly safe. Never once seen a broken car window anywhere there. There is no such thing as smash-and-grab there anymore and carjackings are unheard of. Used to be a lot of petty crime, not anymore. Cameras are everywhere in big cities. It is safe for any attractive young female to walk out on the streets at midnight there.

They use face-recognition technology heavily and catch criminals with the help of it.

I dream of the day law enforcement in the U.S. can link up to Facebook and find the real identities of criminals caught on video. Sadly I don't think that day will ever come. Or maybe in other states but definitely not in California. Crime fighting in California is still stuck in the 80s.

CHP actively scanning the highways for stolen plates using OCR readers? Technically possible but not happening (not sure why).

Police departments linking up to facebook to find thieves caught on 1080p video? Possible but not happening (not legally allowed?).


> I for one prefer the rise of the police state. Have you been to China lately? Amazingly safe.

So is the US. Meanwhile, China is already using their facial recognition technology to track ethnic and religious minorities and is currently "holding as many as a million of them in detention camps" [1]. We have already seen the US government move in a decidedly nationalistic direction over the past few years. Begging for a police state in the name of diminishing returns on security is playing with fire, and we do not need to look far back into the history of the US or Europe to see where that can lead.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/14/technology/china-surveill...


> Have you been to China lately? Amazingly safe. Never once seen a broken car window anywhere there. There is no such thing as smash-and-grab there anymore and carjackings are unheard of. Used to be a lot of petty crime, not anymore. Cameras are everywhere in big cities. It is safe for any attractive young female to walk out on the streets at midnight there.

This is basically true in 99% of the US as well. Not really sure what you're trying to say here.

The rest of your comment basically sounds like, "Fuck civil rights."


An authoritarian state like China's is primed for tyranny. They're already tyrannical to a large degree, but they are unrestricted in their capacity to become far worse. Being enamored of the actions of a benevolent authoritarian is a short term trap. Tens of millions of people's lives were lost last century as a consequence of power ceded to the state.

San Francisco crime rate per 100,000 people: 715.00

Phoenix: 760.93

Houston: 1095.23

New Orleans: 1121.41

Stockton CA: 1414.56

Milwaukee: 1597.36

Baltimore: 2027.01

Detroit: 2056.67

St Louis: 2082.29

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_b...


That's only violent crime. From your very link, for property crime, it's the 4th highest of all the US.

This goes along with what the parent was saying. Cops don't go after non-life threatening crimes.


Are property crime stats adjusted in any way for wealth, inequality, or cost of living?

I would expect property crime to correlate with wealth generally, ie, where there's... more property.

It's also not generally the kind of crime people are thinking about when they say they are worried about their safety.

And guess what, property crime has less impact on the rich too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


> I would expect property crime to correlate with wealth generally, ie, where there's... more property.

This is obviously not true. Wealthy neighborhoods have far less crime.

The point is that because of the policies of SF to go easy on theft, but go hard on violence, causes a lot of theft.

This doesn't just hurt wealthy people, but anyone who owns anything worth stealing, which in turn hurts any poor people trying to make their way out of the gutter.

If they had their police enforce against both types of crime, SF wouldn't look as third worldish as it now does, with lawless shanty towns surrounding ultra rich, well protected areas. You've probably never lived in a very poor neighborhood, but I have. In my experience those that aren't involved in criminal activity, and are trying to get into a better situation want police presence. They want crackdown on crime, because people just trying to live their lives in these neighborhoods these are the ones that these crimes hurt the most.

This blindeye'd activism which prevents the rule of law in poor areas causes the very same hopeless conditions they are rallying against.


That's only reported incidents.

Do you know how many people in the Bay Area stopped reporting crime because the police won't do anything about it?

Get your car robbed? Call the police and they tell you to fill a report out online.


Oh come on. This is nothing but fear-mongering.

You have a reason to think unreported crime is higher in S.F. than other places? Which is what would make comparative crime statistics inaccurate for S.F.? An evidence-based reason?

Anyone being harmed by violence is too many people, anywhere. I'm sorry if you have been harmed by violence in SF. But in America, it's the safety and comfort of those who are already most safe and comfortable that are prioritized, and the most safe and comfortable believe this is their right. In America, we can't distinguish discomfort from threats to safety.

S.F. is in fact much safer than many many American cities. Deal with it. (And the wealthy are in fact safer than the poor in almost any city).

You want to see a police force that really can't be trusted to do anything about anything, and is engaged in rampant criminality on top of that, plus routine violations of the constitution, come visit Baltimore. Not saying the SF police are "good", I don't think any police are, but you don't have it especially bad in SF. Maybe you don't call the police because you don't think it will accomplish anything -- do you know how many people in the USA don't call the police because they think the police may further victimize them? Probably some in S.F. too, depending on who they are...


> Do you know how many people in the Bay Area stopped reporting crime because the police won't do anything about it?

I guess you do, so how many?


The problem with this line of thinking is that you can't "put the toothpaste back in the tube". You might trust the authorities now, but once you give them the kind of technology that allows them to do the things you describe, they have that technology forever. Sooner or later, someone who you don't like will assume power, and may use that same technology against you or those you care about, in ways you haven't anticipated.

I'm not saying the technology wouldn't be amazingly useful in fighting the multiple rampant problems happening in SF (God I wish it were that easy, there is quite a lot I despise about living in SF). But the long-term impact of doing so would be unpredictable at best and catastrophic at worst.


Meanwhile other countries are already fining people for avoiding camera's gaze and forcing them to be photographed. And it's just a pilot project.

https://twitter.com/JamieJBartlett/status/112865736509036134...


Gait recognition is pretty effective, too! https://nypost.com/2018/11/06/chinas-latest-recognition-tech...

And that's perfectly OK according to the SF City Council.


These people are politicans. You can’t possibly expect them to keep up with every new technological advancement.

Genuine question: is there a clean, higher-level abstraction at which a ban like this could be implemented?

I know that my opinion is going to be unpopular but I strongly disagree with this move. I can understand not allowing facial recognition to be run in real time, or for instance to ban corporates from tracking me and using my face for advertisement data, but to ban the police seems extremely dumb. Facial recognition can be used to significantly cut down investigation times and costs and thus reduce the stress on police.

I can understand that viewpoint. But if we look at the track record of how authorities actually use surveillance technology, it is aggressively used to squash dissent, rather than prevent/investigate crimes.

Yes, facial recognition could help cops identify a robber more quickly and yes surveillance has been used to expedite investigations, but what we've seen is that cops across the board will disproportionately abuse this sort of technology to track and monitor (and sometimes later harass) protesters, activists, ethnic/religious minorities and the undocumented.

Here's one instance at the federal level, but abuse happens at the state and local level constantly.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/10/standing-roc...


I wouldn’t be surprised if accurate facial recognition technology actually cut down on things like overt racial profiling.

yeah, maybe... but the question is always 'at what cost?'

There are ways of cutting down on racial profiling that don't require turning our city into a panopticon.


There's no need to create the matrix in the name of security. Crime is historically low. Police have been able to do their jobs without this tool. Once the police have the tools it will be abused. Everytime. Stop it.

Crime is historically high in SF. Obvious to anyone that has lived in Sf for a while.

Source 1) https://hoodline.com/2019/04/crime-is-on-the-rise-in-san-fra...

Source 1b) https://www.ppic.org/publication/crime-trends-in-california/

Source 2) home burgled twice so far in 2019


I bet if you included the 70s and 80s it wouldn’t be the historic high.

Property crimes are obviously way up even if violent crimes aren’t so much.


> but to ban the police seems extremely dumb

I think this conclusion is due to missing some of the downsides. Could it cut costs and speed investigations? Certainly! But try to imagine some of the creative ways in which a naive implementation could be abused.


I agree with you too.

I think everyone who supports the ban and all the supervisors that voted for it have never been a victim of a crime. Or at least never been a victim of a crime recorded on camera.

I bet 99% of the people who have been a victim of a crime that was recorded on camera and yet nothing was done to catch the criminals would be in favor of using facial recognition technology by the police.


Don't worry. They'll just hire private contractors to do it.

That loophole of govt getting things from third parties without due process needs to be plugged.

I think the idea behind opposition to facial recognition is it makes law enforcement too efficient.

Facial recognition is a threat to administrative bloat because it improves the efficiency of the police and would actually reduce all those crises that are leading to higher salaries for administrators tasked with solving those oh so lucrative problems that are created by gaps in law enforcement.


This really feels like attacking the symptoms not the problem. Shouldn't the city, state and federal government develop guidelines on what can and can't be done with this information and ensure lack of abuse? You're in public, you have no expectation of privacy -- whether the video is assessed by computers or an army of humans, does it matter? Don't human viewers have 'facial recognition technology'?

Progress can't be stuffed back into the bottle, but it does need to be guided and controlled. It feels very SF these days, sad to say, to long for the good old days by placing the collective head into the collective sand (as with allowing new/taller buildings to be built).

Technology is neutral, what matters is what we do with it.


the point is to prevent the capture of such data to begin with. As a privacy activist, we've seen that simply developing a 'use-policy,' while effective, can only go so far. Once local/state/fed authorities possess this data, it's a matter of when, not if, it will be abused (or sold off to private interests).

Your second question: there's a massive difference between being observed by an individual officer and being perpetually tracked by an apparatus of ubiquitous cameras that cross-reference your face with your background information, possible criminal record, citizenship status, etc. It also opens the flood gates for horrific scenarios like the 'social credit system' that they've implemented in China. Go look that one up and tell me you're still ok with facial recognition.


I spent a lot of time researching the social credit system and yeah, not a fan -- it's basically gameified totalitarianism.

However, again, I think that's about what you do with the ability and not the ability itself. You don't need facial recognition to implement the social credit system: a simple plastic card would do. Your first name, middle initial and last name as a triple are enough to uniquely identify you on the Texas voting registry 80% of the time [1]. This ship has long sailed. That's again why I'm in favor of regulating the problematic uses of information and technology and not addressing the specific technology or method of implementation.

[1] https://www.eitanhersh.com/uploads/7/9/7/5/7975685/agdn_v1_4...


"That's again why I'm in favor of regulating the problematic uses of information and technology..."

We agree on this in principle. But again, once authorities have any of this data in their possession, abuse always happens. Literally always.

IMO the root problem is not "oh, the cops are just using all my PII and biometric data inappropriately" the root problem is that "the cops have possession of all my PII and biometric data to begin with."

You have the symptom and disease reversed here, IMO.


I am wary of facial recognition, and I avoid the use of it. But I'm not convinced by this line of reasoning either, so let me play devil's advocate.

> But again, once authorities have any of this data in their possession, abuse always happens. Literally always.

Well, before something can be abused it must first be available to use. Conversely, once a tool is available to use some may abuse it.

For example, if collecting fingerprints or DNA were completely forbidden then that might prevent abuse of such data (such as false matches). But it would also prevent any beneficial uses as well.

Banning facial recognition prevents not only abuse but also any potential good uses, such as locating victims of abduction or trafficking, and perhaps other uses we cannot foresee.

Killing it in its infancy may be easier than doing so after it takes root, but it also gives society less opportunity to learn what the consequences of the technology may be, intended and unintended, good or ill.

We know it can be abused, especially in the hands of an authoritarian government, but does that mean it cannot be used responsibly? Anything that gives the state power could be turned against the people, as libertarians might warn, but social progress also requires that we learn to work together rather than reject anything which might do us harm.

Perhaps a better argument for an early and complete local ban might be that it allows other regions to be the test subjects. Or that by taking a less compromising stance the anti-facial recognition side gains a stronger bargaining position at the table. But those arguments are not as attractive, maybe.


"Perhaps a better argument for an early and complete local ban might be that it allows other regions to be the test subjects."

It's a valid thought, honestly. Though seeing how tightly the police hold onto this tech once they have it makes it extremely difficult to just test the waters (and also requires vigilant public oversight, which the sheriffs' associations will fight tooth and nail).

Also having cops test this tech out, knowing they're going to be deliberately monitored to how often they use it for good reasons (e.g. child abductions) vs abuse it, would probably produce incredibly biased results. Think about it-- the experiment would be entirely self-serving: cops get to trumpet that it helped them for the legit crime here and there (and sitting through public safety committees, believe me, they will TRUMPET it), while showing that zero cases of misuse happened.

Ultimately, we have to think in systems: sure, ubiquitous surveillance would undoubtedly solve the horrific crime here and there, but at what cost to who we are as people? At what cost to how we protect minorities and the undocumented? At what cost to our already eroding public trust?


> Also having cops test this tech out, knowing they're going to be deliberately monitored to how often they use it for good reasons (e.g. child abductions) vs abuse it, would probably produce incredibly biased results. Think about it-- the experiment would be entirely self-serving: cops get to trumpet that it helped them for the legit crime here and there (and sitting through public safety committees, believe me, they will TRUMPET it), while showing that zero cases of misuse happened.

To be fair, wouldn't that suggest strong oversight might work then? True, any test might differ from real-world conditions, but theories need to be tested one way or another and it would provide some evidence.

While caution during early testing might lead to less misuse, one could also imagine countervailing factors. For example, lack of familiarity with a new technology might lead to might lead to mistakes. Regulations are written in blood, as they say, and the development of new ethical guidelines may take time.

Which, as we've noted, could be a pragmatic reason to let others be the test subjects. I'm not eager to open the can of worms myself, though it might feel a bit selfish to put it that way.


"To be fair, wouldn't that suggest strong oversight might work then?"

Fair point, that might work if: 1. a public safety/citizens oversight committee does its job consistently, 2. isn't loaded with police-friendly stooges 3. and isn't gradually de-fanged over time in terms of its power.

All three things, with time, can be manipulated by any given city hall, which is often lock-step with the police force.

"...but theories need to be tested one way or another and it would provide some evidence"

Agreed. And I say let's look at how they've deployed facial recognition in China to put those theories to bed.


"apparatus of ubiquitous cameras"

Serious q - why not stop the surveillance and the cameras?


would if we could. that genie's been long out of the bottle, but facial recognition hasn't been adopted to the same extent, yet, because the technology is so nascent.

Yes, but that genie is out of the bottle too. Pretending otherwise isn't going to help.

You sound pretty cynical on the issue. Maybe you should come advocate with us and see for yourself the opportunities we still have to create meaningful change in this space.

And people still rob and murder. But some reason we insist on laws against it.

Right, although I think that your argument would be more akin to regulating knives and duct tape instead of the crimes people commit with them. I see your point though.

> You're in public, you have no expectation of privacy

That's wrong from the start and leads to people not using their rights (e.g. not going to a demonstration, because they have to fear long-term repression).

> whether the video is assessed by computers or an army of humans, does it matter? Don't human viewers have 'facial recognition technology'?

Scale matters and computers are machines of scale. When I no longer have a risk of getting recognized somewhere but instead know that I will and that this information can be stored long-term that has consequences on peoples behavior. See above why that's bad.

Sure, in theory you could try to employ half the population of SF to get the same result as one computer. That would lead to discussions about usage of limited city resources very, very fast and probably stop this in it's tracks. These options are only equivalent in theory, not in practice.

> Technology is neutral, what matters is what we do with it.

Banning usages society deems bad is a valid option of "what to do with it". If you want other options you are always free to argue for them, but then you can no longer claim it's neutral.


"San Francisco bans facial recognition technology by municipal agencies"

They weren't even using it in the first place. I wish they were. More criminals could be caught.


...by the Police and municipalities. Amazon, etc, can still use it in their "grab and go" stores.

IN their stores, not outside on the streets.

I don't think this legislation bans use of face-recognition by individuals & private entities in public. Only by the city agencies themselves.

Why not? Afaik outside of the store is a public property, and anyone can set up a camera there and record with zero issues, since recording anything on public property is a fair game.

Amazon isn't using facial recognition in their "grab and go" stores.

Predictably, it's somehow worse than that, though.


I think it' useful to divide this into two separate issues:

- information

- information asymmetry


Removed comment, because child comment has a good point that I somehow 100% missed~

It's inevitable that San Francisco (and other parts of the bay area), which like to be on the forefront of certain rights issues will occasionally run up against the interests of some of the repercussions of the technology developed in the area, as technology stresses different areas of rights and the law.

Ideally, SF is just a testing ground for something enacted at a state level that's a bit better worded and more comprehensive, and that in turn is a testing ground for some national legislation that works even better. I mean, that's how it's supposed to work, even if it feels like it rarely does. I've been waiting for something like that to happen on the front of ownership of personal information and online tracking for years. Looks like it's finally getting a bit more attention, but who knows if something useful will come out of it.


> ban on the use of facial recognition technology by police and all other municipal agencies

I'm not even sure if the article is what you responded to

Private sector and their partners can all still use it


Really sad the Times is just an outlet for what amounts to a symbolic nothingburger.

Were citizens having trouble with this in SF? I live in SF and have never seen police use facial recognition, nor have I seen anyone have a problem with it's use at a Governmental level.

Could that happen? Sure.

But SF Board of Supervisors have SO MANY REALLY BAD PROBLEMS they need to be solving.

Instead they are choosing to be pro-active legislating against tech (because they hate tech, let's admit it). Pro-active legislation is something that should be higher level -- state senate, federal, etc. Local politicians should be listening to their constituents to determine their priorities.

They need to get off their butts and solve our homelessness problem with the $50k per homeless individual they now have in their yearly budget. Why do I still see crap all over the streets? Why do I feel like I'm going to be attacked when I'm in the streets?

Some guy stabbed himself with a knife right buy the Caltrain station last year. If that was an isolated event, I wouldn't have a problem.

Their priorities are so out of whack.


I grew up in a pretty dangerous city and have been robbed at gunpoint. San Francisco is _not_ a dangerous city and the problems it has pales in comparison to many cities in the United States, especially in the rust belt. Are there homeless people? Yeah. Is the city trying to address it? I honestly think so, it's not a simple problem to solve.

I don't understand how this post caused so many knee jerk reactions to homelessness and housing etc. I swear you bring up _anything_ related to San Francisco and it triggers people. If you hate the city so much how can you stand living there?


Clearly, people are living there to pursue their careers. Many can't stand it for long and leave after a few years. I know some of these people.

There is no excuse for a city with the per-capita wealth of San Francisco to suck as bad as it does, and "overzealous law enforcement" is not even on the list of problems the place actually has.

When a basic level of order is not being maintained, hand-wringing about a hypothetical police state falls flat with members of the public, some of whom are thinking fuck it, moving to Singapore sounds nice right about now.


I’m amazed at how much power this city body is.

There used to be an easy solution to this: vote for change. The problem, in my opinion, is that San Francisco has passed the political event horizon of single party rule. There is a monopoly government with no hope for competition and a huge welfare state that keeps the machine moving along. This won’t stop until they run out of other people’s money or Roombas are sophisticated enough to clean up streets. Of course, they’ll ban those too.


Just because your city is more dangerous doesn't mean that SF isn't. I've had friends robbed right outside their apartments, acquaintances' teeth smashed in by thieves in broad daylight, and I've even personally apprehended a shoplifter running through one of the main streets next to Union Square. Nowhere else in America have I seen these problems, let alone the buckets of human waste on the streets and guys shooting up right next to the local Best Buy.

In what major city did you grow up in where robberies don't exist or shoplifting isn't a thing?

Is there an approved list of major cities where we have collectively decided that this behavior is just "okay" and "normal"? I'm growing a little tired of this mantra that because we can point to some place that indeed has it worse (or way worse) than SF/Seattle/LA wherever that it's not a problem or we're wrong to thing it is.

What I'm getting at is you live in a city, not a college town. Cities have large populations which means some of the citizens are anti-social and derelict. It all comes with the price of living in a city (especially in the United States).

Yeah and I get that that's your point, but it's not immediately clear to me that size is the problem. But we don't have these problems in e.g. Singapore or Tokyo - cities that are several orders of magnitude larger than SF or most cities in the US. It seems weirdly fatalistic to shrug our shoulders and say "meh" about this problem.

You’re talking about major cities not even located in the US. The US has a very different history than either of those places and tons of systemic social issues caused from decisions made in our history. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

So we should willingly accept drastically more dangerous living conditions than other major cities? If we know that safe places like that exist then why don't we try to emulate it?

I live in one of those cities mentioned and while it has its own problems like any place does, it's quite remarkable how safe it is. You'd have no problem walking alone down some shady alleys as long as you mind your own business.


I was raised in a capital city in a southern state, lived in a rural part of another southern state, now live in upstate NY and frequently go to the city. Obviously I'd hear about robberies and shoplifting, but nowhere in America have I been as close to the crimes as I have in SF.

Some numbers if you want them: https://www.californiacitynews.org/2018/10/what%E2%80%99s-ca... https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/02/16/property-...


What cities don’t have fentanyl overdose issues. Let’s forget about it, other cities are worse.

New York. Having lived in both NY and SF, New York is so much better re: the homeless.

Also Tokyo seems pretty great, but I haven't lived there.


Tokyo is not located in the US. New York used to be a war zone for most of its existence and fairly recently (2000s) has become much safer but could easily fall back to old ways.

New York becoming much safer is proof that San Francisco could do the same, but doesn't for whatever reason. There's practically no police presence in SF unlike NYC where you can barely go one block without seeing NYPD.

I've lived here for 15 years and the situation has grown vastly worse in the last 2-3 years. To those of us who have lived in _this_ city for a long time, what we are seeing is a full blown crisis that needs to be priority number one, two, three and four - at least until we get things moving in the right direction.


My roommate was stabbed on 6th and Folsom at 8PM.

He was in the hospital for quite some time.

Another guy I know was shot 3 times when someone tried to rob him & he ran. He almost lost his ability to walk.

It's a dangerous city.


I successfully ran from an armed robber in SF at around ~7PM. I spotted his gun from ~15 feet and pulled my friend into traffic to run away. Others have been shot and killed on the same block. My co-worker was robbed with a gun inside the Caltrain station in the early evening.

Lived all over Los Angeles for over a decade and never even witnessed an armed robbery, let alone experienced one. Never had my car or house broken into either.

SF is overrun with dangerous heroin needles, human shit on the streets, burglary, and armed robbery. It's just pathetic and the amount of denial about it is enough to make you think some of the residents are insane.


Compare homicides with San Francisco and any major metro of similar size and San Francisco will show it's not that dangerous. It might appear dangerous because the middle class and upper-middle class are not sheltered from everything here but it isn't that dangerous compared to most other cities.

There were 42 homicides in San Francisco (2018).

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/09/bay-area-homicides-20...

There were 184 homicides in Memphis last year (2018), Memphis has roughly 200,000 less people than San Francisco

https://dailymemphian.com/article/2253/Memphis-homicides-up-...

There were 156 homicides in Indianapolis last year (2018), Indianapolis has roughly the same population as San Francisco

https://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/indianapolis/...

There were 200 homicides in Kansas City (2018), Kansas City is roughly 1/2 the population of San Francisco

https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-city-homicides-2018#stream/...

If you look at St. Louis and Baltimore you'll realize there are places of similar or smaller population with much more crime

There were 186 homicides in St. Louis (2018), St. Louis is roughly 1/3 the population of San Francisco

https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/homicides-in-the-cit...

San Francisco compared to the rest of the United States is relatively safe and the entire Bay Area is actually getting safer including San Francisco (58 homicides in 2016).

https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Homicides-fall-acr...


Because there are no other crimes than homicides...

reposting my comment below:

"please remember that there are coalitions of activists advocating multiple issues for civil rights simultaneously, and that a victory in one area (e.g. fighting the surveillance state) is neither mutually exclusive nor to the detriment of another equal or greater social ill (e.g. homelessness)."

oh and "Instead they are choosing to be pro-active legislating against tech..."

While the legislation is pre-emptive (being rolled out before an invasive technology becomes widespread, which, duh), it is in no way pro-active.

This legislation passing is a reaction to years-long, tireless efforts of coalitions of privacy activists, religious/ethnic minority activists, and activists advocating for the undocumented.


Thank you for adding this to the discussion. The way some people are talking about homelessness and crime in this thread makes me wonder if they are upset that SF won’t be making use of facial recognition to criminalize and displace the homeless. I really hope most of us understand that capitulation an ever increasing surveillance state isn’t how you solve a housing crisis. We must fight for what’s right on many fronts simultaneously.

A pro-active legislation against tech doesn't cost in the current budget, is hard to account for as a cost in a future budget, doesn't call anyone's current actions out as problematic, and doesn't really require a change at the employee level. It's basically free.

By the same token, it doesn't really detract from anything else they should be doing, so using it as a reason to criticize other problems they have doesn't make much sense, unless you assume they can only do one thing at a time, which doesn't seem likely.


Resources are finite, as is time. Those are costs.

I would disagree that "it doesn't detract from anything else they should be doing." Clearly they aren't solving the important problems. What has been done in the last month?

The top thing every week, or perhaps every day, should be how they are solving the important problems. If they are blocked, they should mention how they are blocked and find alternative paths proactively.

Instead they dilute, defer, and distract. These problems have been going on for years, with some of the top-most funding of any city in the country. If nothing is being done, then I think it's safe to assume that they are getting distracted by other things.


Nope - from the article "The facial recognition fight in San Francisco is largely theoretical — the police department does not currently deploy facial recognition technology, except in its airport and ports that are under federal jurisdiction and are not impacted by the legislation."

Drugs, homelessness, human feces, insane housing prices -- well at least we can solve theoretical facial recognition


And yet no efforts at fecal recognition...

There's a business that does this for ascribing blame for dog feces; shouldn't be hard to apply to waste, no matter the source.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/19/pooprints-brings-in-millions...

(As with many social ills, it's likely a very small number of repeat offenders – so identifying & appropriate addressing them in a prioritized manner is the best way to a solution.)


Or, just use the less expensive option to deploy nanny state level camera coverage and use the facial recognition to identify the dog's owner so the bills can be sent out by some AI system purchased from Amazon. Your fines will be delivered in 48 hours for free or possibly the same day if they have a facial recognition data center in your local area.

Probably not that hard to build a fecal recognition model, it's what comes after that's more difficult. "It's like Uber for scooping"

SF already has this: http://mobile311.sfgov.org/reports?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=poop

Just report the poop on 311 and they go clean it up. Yes it works.


That looks like it only has a search interface. How do you add a new report?

The link to download the 311 reporting app for Android and iOS are on the right side of page when viewed on a desktop, not sure how it looks on mobile however the link should still be there.

If you think about it, it seems that the industry here is obsessed with solving all kinds of theoretical AI risks.

We should probably get a resolution on the table banning the use of ED-209s before people get killed.


Exactly. When you can't get anything useful done, pass a law that's arbitrarily populist and pat yourself on the back.

I'm a constituent and I don't want to be tracked as I walk around in public. I'm glad they're listening to people like me.

I don't disagree, by the way.

But can I ask?

- Did you tell any legislators about your opinion? Did they listen to you, or do you just agree with their solution?

- Have you seen any of this tech/tracking anywhere before?

Ultimately I could theorize 100s of laws that would be sensical, but pose no present danger to citizens.


> but pose no present danger to citizens

I would suggest that if something appears likely to cause a fire, you can:

a) Wait for the fire to start, put it out, then fix the cause.

b) Preemptively fix the cause, thus preventing the fire from occurring in the first place.

The questions are then "how likely is this to cause a fire" and "how bad would the damage be"? I would estimate that the likelihood for authorities to abuse widespread, centralized facial recognition deployments is approximately 100%, and that in many cases the damage would be extremely high.


Aaron Peskin is the king of pandering in this city. He comes up with bills like this all the time.

I just can't understand why people in District 3 keep re-electing him... even bringing him back after terming out before. I guess his strategy works even while the city has all of these huge problems?


I can think of 49 states that feel this way about your senators. Oh the irony.

There is the comfort that there are only two of them.

Well there's actually one senator and one lizard, assuming of course that you consider dinosaurs lizards and not birds.

> Pro-active legislation is something that should be higher level -- state senate, federal, etc. Local politicians should be listening to their constituents to determine their priorities.

I'd argue the opposite--pro-active legislation is better if it is tried locally first. That way, we can see how different places try different approaches to a given problem to learn what the right approach is to use when later the problem is addressed at the state or national level.


Fully agree, also having multiple municipalities push through legislation like this can indicate to the state, which can take years to legislate to these issues, that there is a growing appetite.

Also- many activist coalitions will simultaneously advocate for legislation through several local and state levels. It’s actually sometimes ineffective to take the ‘one or the other’ approach.


I agree they have better things to be doing but there's nothing wrong with them saying "we see where this road is going and we're not going down it". It's not like doing that costs money.

"have never seen police use facial recognition"

Now you never will.


How would you _see_ facial recognition technology being used?

Do you see a way facial recognition technology would be used to solve the homelessness problem? Like, I'm not sure how you see them being connected, or how banning it will harm efforts to address homelessness.

Isn't this a benefit cause the money saved not doing facial recognition can be used for things that do matter to you?

The reason you see lots of homeless people is because there are lots of poor people who are homeless. Simple as that.


What they need to do is integrate their BaRT and Muni cameras, feed them images of felons with outstanding warrants and alert authorities when they ping so authorities can check it out.

But, as always, the SF supes are entranced by high-viz lo-impact measures. It’s their MO.


The standard response from the apologists re: what you're pointing out is, "The Board of Supervisors can walk and chew gum at the same time."

But it's undermined by the fact that they're not actually making progress on the actual crises (of which I'd put housing at the top, followed by an overdominant car culture) — so it's more like they're simultaneously failing to walk and failing to chew.


If you're worried about how SF is allocating resources, then a pre-emptive ban on this stuff is an extremely efficient way to regulate in this area (compared to doing studies once it's built, or creating an oversight panel etc.).

what is your relationship to the police that you expect to know whether they are using facial recognition or not? here in Canada they certainly are
prepend 7 days ago [flagged]

Perhaps this will help with the piles of human excrement.



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