San Francisco was the first city to ban face recognition technology. Back in May, the city prohibited the use of facial recognition systems among city employees, e.g., police and city agencies, in order to avoid both corporate and public surveillance. However, by trying to protect privacy against face recognition, the authorities of the city accidentally banned Apple iPhones.
The thing is that starting from iPhone XR and continuing to all newer models, iPhones are equipped with a Face ID feature that makes it possible for a device to recognize its user by face.
It became apparent that a lot of employees had iPhones with this feature, so using them practically became illegal. And even if they turned off Face ID, which cannot be deleted or removed from the device, the government would still be liable.
Some more cities followed San Francisco in voting for the same law. These cities include Oakland and Somerville in Massachusetts. And yet some of them, for instance, Brookline in Massachusetts, decided to exclude technology of personal use from the list of devices that are banned.
Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to amend the law in order to make iPhones within the city legal again, as well as other devices with a facial recognition feature. The amendments that were made now allow city employees to distribute and possess such devices, provided that their use is necessary, there’s no possible alternative to them, and their facial recognition features cannot be removed. Therefore, iPhones can be used as well, however, Face ID is still banned, so stuffers will need to turn it off and use passcodes instead.