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Will facial recognition be banned in at least 3 more U.S. cities in 2020?


San Francisco banned facial recognition use by city and county agencies in May of 2019. Somerville, Massachusetts followed suit in June of that year. And in July 2019, Oakland, California, became the latest to ban city departments — including police — from using facial-recognition technology.

According to this Vox article by Sigal Samuel, Kelsey Piper, and Dylan Matthews:

In 2019, we saw a growing backlash against facial recognition technology. San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley banned it, as did three communities in Massachusetts: Somerville, Brookline, and Northampton. In 2020, I predict we’ll see at least three more cities institute a ban on the controversial tech.

To be clear, I’m talking about a ban that applies to city departments like police; I think outright bans that would also cover businesses, individuals, and federal agencies are way less likely.

I’m partly going off local news about particular cities — Portland is currently deliberating over a ban, and the western Massachusetts city of Springfield might be next. Last year saw mounting pushback against facial recognition from AI researchers, groups like the ACLU, low-income tenants in Brooklyn, and many more. Their protests seem to be growing bolder, not quieter. I should note that according to Pew Research Center survey data, most Americans are now in favor of police using facial recognition. I don’t think a nationwide ban is in the cards for 2020 (sorry, Bernie). But a lot can still happen on the city level, and I think it will.

Will facial recognition be banned in at least 3 more U.S. cities in 2020?

This question resolves positively if at least three U.S. cities pass legislation that bans the local government use of facial-recognition technology before the end of 2020. To count, the relevant legislation needs to be passed, but the bans need not go into effect before the end of 2020. In case of ambiguity we will adopt the resolution by Dylan Matthews and Kelsey Piper in their assessments of their 2020 predictions.

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