Listen: San Francisco, Martin Kosti And China discussed on All Things Considered
"Cornish, San Francisco yesterday, moved closer to becoming the first big city in America to ban police from using facial, recognition software, the board of supervisors voted overwhelmingly for the ban, NPR's Martin Kosti has been following the growing use of facial recognition in the US. He joins us now and Martin to start just how significant is this move. Well nothing changes right now in practice. San Francisco police had tried fish recognition at one point. But it didn't really work out for them. They sort of let it go. So it wasn't in us. It's also important to point out that other agencies that are not city agencies in San Francisco, such as the feds or maybe state, investigators or the private sector can still use facial recognition in the city. I mean, if you walk into a store, there's still nothing to stop the store from using fish recognition to track people as they go around the aisles, but the privacy advocates who follow this stuff closely do believe that the sight of this very tech. Savvy city. Drawing a line around facial recognition, saying that goes too far that, that will sort of get people's attention around the country, and maybe inspire some other cities to pass similar bans. But they're not getting rid of other kinds of technology, right there kinds of surveillance, techniques license plate readers. So what's the argument for singling out facial recognition right for an across the board banned? I think the big argument right now is whether facial recognition is somehow fundamentally different from other kinds of surveillance, and, you know, the people behind this legislation say it is because unlike say your license plate or the phone in your pocket, your face is not something you can just leave at home and the real fear here is that we might eventually move toward, what China has been doing, which is having real time surveillance of people in the street that something they're trying to build their algebra. Madonna is an expert in this field. He runs the center on privacy and technology at Georgetown law. And he says, right now, it's true that police are still using fish recognition kind of in this limited way it's called forensic facial recognition where you take a crime scene photo after the fact and try to. To match it against mugshots, but he says there is some sign that what he calls face surveillance, that kind of thing, China's trying to do maybe closer than Americans think face surveillance is not commonplace in, that's probably a good thing, what we are seeing, though, are private actors getting their hands on the technology and using it in real time. And we're increasingly seeing police forces at the state and local level, putting in writing and contract documents that they want it, and then going out and buying it. So there's this fear that the infrastructure sort of quietly, being built up and at some point suddenly it'll just be part of our lives is anyone going to bat for facial recognition here. We'll certainly people who are worried about crime, especially property crime say, you know, let's not be quite so sweeping in this. I mean, there's definitely a general sort of sense that mass surveillance is not something we want. But anti-crime groups, especially in San Francisco say all this video that we're now. Uploading to the police, you know, if we really want to catch the sort of career package thief, you're going to have to use off. To scan through all those hours of video to find commonalities to find that face. That keeps recurring sapping back when you look across the legal landscape. Are there other kinds of government actions? Right. Or their rules for facial recognition or anything like that. A few states have passed laws that regulate to some degree how commercial entities can use facial recognition. But when it comes to government use of facial recognition, it's still really kind of a white space out there when it comes to regulation. There's some sense here that, that may become a problem that if there's no regulation, this will become quickly. So ubiquitous, it'll freak people out there might become a public backlash and face recognition will be banned others, though, on the privacy side of this worry that the lack of regulation. We'll just sort of set the stage for us getting"