Surveillance technology is advancing and spreading to cities around the world, but San Francisco, a major tech hub, has actually moved to slow its roll.
This week it voted to ban the purchase and use of facial recognition technology by city departments and require them to submit surveillance technology policies for public vetting.
Jennifer Lynch, Surveillance Litigation Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for data privacy, says the San Francisco ban is a step in the right direction.
SOUNDBITE: JENNIFER LYNCH, SURVEILLANCE LITIGATION DIRECTOR OF THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION, saying: "We're seeing what's happening in China and China is selling its surveillance technology to other countries around the world.
We already have surveillance cameras everywhere across the United States and we're right at the cusp of implementing real time face recognition programs in many cities around the country.
So in San Francisco while we don't yet have any real time face recognition programs in place we're right at the point where we need to pass legislation like this so that we can prevent that from happening." Reuters correspondent Jeffrey Dastin has been following the story.
SOUNDBITE: JEFFREY DASTIN, REUTERS REPORTER, saying: "While this ordinance is likely to be finalized next week in the law to go in effect at least 30 days after that, there still will be facial recognition and use in San Francisco.
If you're a retailer and want to stop shoplifters if you are some other organization and want to use facial action for some purpose you still can use it.
So it still will be very much a technology in our lives." Civil rights activists have been fighting the use of facial recognition technology, arguing it can be used to target minorities and activists.
SOUNDBITE: MATT COGLE, TECHNOLOGY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES ATTORNEY OF ACLU NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, saying: "Last summer the ACLU scanned the faces of Congress against a mug shot databases and Amazon's facial recognition service produced 28 false matches of those false matches a significant amount where people of color.
The coalition that emerged to support this ordinance consists of people from all backgrounds the LGBTQ community people representing homeless folks and organizations working and fighting for immigrants rights." Amazon has faced scrutiny since last year for selling an image analysis and ID service to law enforcement.
Civil rights groups and companies inlcuding Microsoft, which also markets a facial reconition service, have called for regulation of the technology in recent months.
That's added momentum to the San Francisco effort and a ban reportedly in the works across the bay in Oakland.