The Pros And Cons Of California’s Facial Recognition Bans

Aug 20, 2019

Last month, Oakland became the second city in America to ban the use of facial recognition software by local government agencies, including law enforcement. Joining San Francisco, Oakland sought the ban after civil liberties advocates warned that it could be used to disproportionately impact people of color.

Facial recognition technology has become a powerful tool within the security industry. It’s especially useful for commercial and residential property owners to help with issues of access control.

With that said, it’s a hot-button issue for many communities who worry about issues of privacy. If you’re feeling unsure about the right approach, understanding the pros and cons of facial recognition will help you decide if it’s right for your business.

Why It Was Banned


Facial recognition software was banned in San Francisco and Oakland because of concerns that it would be used unfairly to target minorities and immigrants. For example, imagine police wearing body cameras that scanned faces in real-time to identify illegal immigrants.

“Facial recognition can be misused if is operated by humans on selective events or targeted to specific demographics,” says Daniel Martinez, Director of Business Development at Alpha Video Surveillance.

He explained that, “learning about an individual’s past offenses and migration status will hardly prevent any crime and could potentially generate unnecessary biases towards that individual.”

Benefits of Facial Recognition Software in Security


“The approach that we like to take on facial recognition is to use the analytical aspects of the technology to learn patterns of the people and that way evaluate the individual risks.” — Daniel Martinez, Director of Business Development at AVS

It’s important to understand that law enforcement and commercial property owners have very different needs when it comes to utilizing facial recognition software. For property managers, the main goal is to prevent crime and increase operational efficiency.

Here are just some of the benefits of using facial recognition software:

  • Provides access control useful at commercial and residential properties
  • Helps prevent crime by creating alerts when known troublemakers enter the property
  • Aids in operational efficiency for gaming properties by creating an alert when VIP guests arrive

In addition, facial recognition software offers several business intelligence tools used by retail establishments, like people tracking, that can influence decisions about things such as the placement of product displays. But, even if you don’t feel you need facial recognition software, there are plenty of alternative ways to protect your business.

Here are two alternatives to facial recognition:

  1. Biometric Access Control Systems — These systems use fingerprints instead of facial recognition to permit entry into commercial and residential buildings, or even specific secured rooms within your property.
  2. License Plate Recognition — Cameras equipped with license plate recognition software monitor and record every vehicle that enters your property. This data, along with images of the driver captured when the vehicle enters and exits, can offer many of the same access control information as facial recognition, without going that extra mile.

Whether or not you opt for facial recognition at your property depends entirely on your needs, and what you’re comfortable installing. The best way to decide that is to talk to a security expert who can walk you through your options, and explain the benefits of each tool so you can make an informed decision.

Start learning about your options when it comes to remote guarding, facial recognition, and all the latest security solutions. Request your free remote guarding services quote today.