The solution is to distinguish between two very different uses of facial recognition technology, banning one and allowing but tightly regulating the other.

We should ban “face surveillance,” the use of facial recognition (in real time or from stored footage) to track people as they pass by public or private surveillance cameras, allowing their whereabouts to be traced.

On the other hand, we should allow “face identification”— again, with strict rules — so the police can use facial recognition technology to identify a criminal suspect caught on camera.

With cameras so pervasive on street poles and buildings, widespread face surveillance would be Big Brother come to life, allowing for the tracking of our every movement and the stitching together of intimate portraits of our lives. Yes, banning it could cost the police the ability to nab a dangerous fugitive on the run. But allowing it could lead to the mass surveillance that China is deploying. Most Americans aren’t going to be comfortable with that, nor should they be.