Tuesday August 20, 2019
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Oakland Becomes Second City to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

However, some other organizations supporting the technology argued that the ban would hurt the law-enforcing capabilities of police officers when they are called for help

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate (Representational image). VOA

The city of Oakland in Northern California has become the second Bay Area city to outlaw the use of facial recognition technology by municipal agencies following a unanimous vote by its council to approve the ban.

The City Council of Oakland passed unanimously an ordinance to prohibit municipal agencies including city police from acquiring or using facial technology in law enforcement. A final vote on the legislation, which is widely seen as procedural, will take place in September this year.

Rebecca Kaplan, President of Oakland City Council, who introduced the ordinance, said in a tweet on Wednesday that she appreciated everyone’s effort to join “together in working to block flawed technology that invades privacy and worsens racial disparities in policing,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The latest legislation made Oakland the second Bay Area city to forbid the controversial technology after San Francisco adopted a similar ban in May 2019. Oakland is also the third US city to declare facial technology illegal following a decision by Somerville city in Massachusetts to join the rank of San Francisco in June.

The ordinance called facial recognition technology “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face”.

Kaplan said the powerful technology runs the risk of making Oakland residents less safe because it is often inaccurate, invasive and lacks established ethical standards with high possibilities of being abused by government agencies.

An Apple employee demonstrates the facial recognition feature of the new iPhone X at the Apple Union Square store in San Francisco. VOA

On Tuesday, a California rights advocacy group urged Oakland city to ban the use of facial technology, which it claimed would “lead to new violations of civil rights”.

The Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nationwide non-profit fighting for individual rights, wrote a letter to the members of the Oakland City Council, urging the city to pass the ordinance to protect Oakland residents from “dangerous, invasive, and biased systems that endanger their civil rights and safety.”

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The ACLU of Northern Northern California on Wednesday welcomed Oakland’s legislation. Matt Cagle, the organization’s civil liberties attorney, said Oakland’s decision indicated how “democracy can work to protect civil rights”.

“Decisions about surveillance technology are being made by the public and impacted communities through their elected representatives — not by police or vendors acting alone and in secret,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

However, some other organizations supporting the technology argued that the ban would hurt the law-enforcing capabilities of police officers when they are called for help. (IANS)

Next Story

San Francisco Airport Bans Sale of Plastic Water Bottles

The new rule will apply to airport restaurants, cafes and vending machines

plastic bottles
FILE - Vehicles wait outside the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco. VOA

San Francisco International Airport is banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Friday that the unprecedented move at one of the major airports in the country will take effect Aug. 20.

The new rule will apply to airport restaurants, cafes and vending machines. Travelers needing plain water will have to buy refillable aluminum or glass bottles if they don’t bring their own. As a department of San Francisco’s municipal government, the airport is following an ordinance approved in 2014 banning the sale of plastic water bottles on city-owned property.

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SFO spokesman Doug Yakel says the shift away from plastics is also part of a broader plan to slash net carbon emissions and energy use to zero and eliminate most landfill waste by 2021. (VOA)

One response to “San Francisco Airport Bans Sale of Plastic Water Bottles”

  1. More proof than San Francisco is run by idiots. You cannot buy water in plastic bottles, but you can buy every other kind of soft drink, including the sugary carbonated or caffeine-infused drinks the same aforementioned idiots rail against. So I make a connection at SFO to get to China or someplace, and can’t buy a bottle of water for a 12+ hour flight in a aluminum can in the sky that has been de-humidified. And for no good reason other than so some moronic politicians can feel good about themselves.