This week, San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted to ban the use of facial-recognition technology by the city’s police and other agencies. Oakland and Berkeley are also considering bans, as is the city of Somerville, Mass. I’m hoping for a cascade. States, cities and the federal government should impose an immediate moratorium on facial recognition, especially its use by law-enforcement agencies. We might still decide, at a later time, to give ourselves over to cameras everywhere. But let’s not jump into an all-seeing future without understanding the risks at hand.
What are the risks? Two new reports by Clare Garvie, a researcher who studies facial recognition at Georgetown Law, brought the dangers home for me. In one report — written with Laura Moy, executive director