California to Ban Police Body Cameras with Facial Recognition

September 13, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign legislation —The Body Camera Accountability Act– to ban the use of facial-recognition technology in law enforcement body cameras. Assembly Member Phil Ting (D), who wrote the bill, told the Washington Post "Body cameras have been used as a tool to build trust between communities and law enforcement and to provide more transparency. Putting facial recognition software into those body cameras helps destroy that trust. It turns a tool of transparency and openness into a tool of 24-hour surveillance." EPIC had long warned lawmakers about police-worn body cameras and facial recognition. In a 2015 statement for the Senate, EPIC explained that "the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies is expanding within the United States without proper oversight or input from the public." In a related commentary, EPIC Domestic Surveillance Counsel Jeramie Scott wrote, "Police body cameras may help improve police relations with the public, but steps must also be taken to ensure that concerns about privacy are addressed. As body cameras increase, we must guard against expanding their use and remain focused on true police accountability." EPIC's State Policy Project tracks privacy developments in the states.

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