San Francisco Supervisors Introduce Legislation to Ban Facial Recognition, Replacement for PG&E - NBC Bay Area
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San Francisco Supervisors Introduce Legislation to Ban Facial Recognition, Replacement for PG&E

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    San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting that, if passed, would make San Francisco the nation's first city to prohibit the use of facial recognition surveillance technology by law enforcement and other city departments.

    According to Peskin's office, the legislation would also require a public debate and a vote by the Board of Supervisors before a department obtains new surveillance technology.

    The legislation is meant to prevent civil rights and civil liberties abuses, his office said.

    "This legislation would require departments that are seeking public funds to acquire or use surveillance technology to have a surveillance plan and a policy that would come before the board of supervisors for approval," Peskin said at Tuesday's meeting.

    "But most importantly, this legislation bans facial recognition technology, which we know and the literature absolutely shows - and the concerns come not only from civil liberties groups, but the concerns come from the tech industry - that facial recognition technology, that has the biases of the people who have developed it, disproportionately misidentifies people of color and women. This is a fact, you can read it in countless pieces of literature," he said.

    Similar legislation requiring that law enforcement and other city departments come up with a plan and policy for using surveillance technology has already been approved by the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Clara and Davis, as well as public transit system BART.

    Also at Tuesday's meeting, Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced legislation to launch a fund that would help speedup the city's bid to create its own public utility, CleanPowerSF, to replace PG&E.

    With a hearing set this week for PG&E's bankruptcy petition, Ronen said the time to split from the company is now.

    "For years we have been struggling to take incremental steps to deliver clean, green power to San Franciscans while PG&E has spent millions trying to block us. Against all odds, we created CleanPowerSF in 2016, but the program still relies on PG&E's existing grid for transmission and distribution. With the clock ticking on climate change and PG&E's abysmal safety record, we must take urgent action," Ronen said.

    Ronen's Green New Deal legislation seeks to secure $15.6 million from the excess windfall of $181 million in property taxes to kick start the study, purchase and construction of a publicly owned grid. CleanPowerSF generates electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, biogas and small-hydro.

    "We need to accelerate our split from this company. A profit-driven utility is not working for us, I am sick of us footing PG&E's bill for negligent behavior, especially when they're giving fat-cat executive salaries every year and outrageous bonuses and more concerned about their profit of their shareholders and not their customers," Ronen said.

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