San Francisco Considering Terrifying Spy Tech For Cops

The ultra-liberal city of San Francisco is planning to vote on a ballot measure next week that would give police the authority to use drones, surveillance cameras and facial recognition software powered by AI.

All of this is being pushed as the city has struggled immensely to try to restore its reputation, which has been tarnished over the last year or so due to the steep increase in drugs and crime on the streets.

Proposition E, which is colloquially being referred to as the Safer San Francisco initiative, is being championed by the city’s Mayor London Breed. She believes that citizens throughout the city who are disgruntled with how things have progressed in the city recently will ultimately go to the polls and approve the proposal next Tuesday.

The San Francisco region is known across the world for its advances in technology, with Silicon Valley being so close by. However, the residents of the city are also typically known for being suspicious.

In 2019, the city became the first large city in the United States to ban the government from using facial recognition software over concerns about misuse and privacy.

Breed played down that misuse could happen through the initiatives in the ballot measure, claiming that they have safeguards in place. The mayor, who is running for re-election this year, said in a recent interview:

“I get that people are concerned about privacy rights and other things, but technology is all around us. It’s coming whether we want it to or not. And everyone is walking around with AI in their hands with their phones, recording, videotaping.”

Those who have criticized the measure said disadvantaged communities could be hurt the most, with many false arrests likely to occur. They also say that for surveillance technology to work properly and in the right way, greater oversight must be put into place.

One group opposed to the measure is the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Matt Cagle, who serves as its senior staff attorney, said there is much anecdotal evidence available from some place where the technology is in use, and it’s quite alarming.

As he explained:

“We’ve heard about stories of Black folks primarily … being arrested for crimes they didn’t commit, having their lives derailed.”

Those who are in support of the ballot measure say they believe it’s going to pass because of the fact that residents are becoming increasingly angry about rampant drug use on the street and car thefts.

San Francisco is one city that hasn’t been able to recover fully from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many large retailers and businesses have decided to close down over the last few years, saying that crime was a major factor in their decision.

If the measure is approved, police would be able to install security cameras in public places, deploy drones in assistance to officers and also use facial recognition software in the video surveillance.