San Francisco Needs To Improve The Way It Oversees Its Procurement And Use Of Surveillance Technology
San Francisco, CA (August 3, 2021) — In June 2019 San Francisco became the first major city in the United States to ban the local government from using facial recognition technology when the City’s Acquisition of Surveillance Technology Ordinance became law. The ordinance aims to promote transparency, protect the privacy rights of residents and businesses, and initiate a public discussion on government surveillance.
To fulfill these goals, the ordinance requires city departments to disclose surveillance technologies they use and to obtain permission before procuring or using any new surveillance technology or data. The Controller’s Office conducted an audit to determine whether city departments have complied with the ordinance.
Based on the audit’s findings, the report recommends changes to current processes that should result in stronger protections for the public, more accurate inventories, and better use of departments’ time and resources.