Computers

California officially bans police use of facial recognition in body cameras

California officially bans pol...
Due to pushback from law enforcement agencies, California's new law will expire in three years
Due to pushback from law enforcement agencies, California's new law will expire in three years
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Due to pushback from law enforcement agencies, California's new law will expire in three years
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Due to pushback from law enforcement agencies, California's new law will expire in three years

Continuing the growing pushback against facial recognition technology, California has now passed a new law banning the tech in connection with data gathered by police body cameras. The law comes into effect at the beginning of 2020 and will expire after three years.

Earlier this year San Francisco became the first city in the United States to entirely ban local government and law enforcement uses of facial recognition technology. Several other municipalities followed suit with similar bans, including Oakland, and Somerville, a suburb of Boston. Now, California has instated the largest ban on the technology seen in the United States to date, although so far, the law is limited to a single, highly specific use.

The bill, spearheaded by San Francisco State Assembly member Phil Ting, prohibits “a law enforcement agency or law enforcement officer from installing, activating, or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera or data collected by an officer camera.”

Ting initially was pushing for a permanent, or at least long-term ban on the technology. However, an unsurprising pushback from law enforcement agencies resulted in a three-year window being incorporated into the bill, resulting in an automatic repeal of the new provisions come January 1, 2023.

“We wanted to run this as a demonstration about how this software is absolutely not ready for prime time,” said Ting at a recent press conference demonstrating how frequently the technology is incorrect. “While we can laugh about it as legislators, it’s no laughing matter if you are an individual who is trying to get a job, if you are an individual trying to get a home, if you get falsely accused of an arrest, what happens, it could impact your ability to get employment, it absolutely impacts your ability to get housing.”

In the case of California, this law is still mostly a pre-emptive action, with Ting readily admitting facial recognition technology is not currently deployed in police body cameras so far in the state. Although the technology is suggested to be already widely used in countries such as China. And even though police in the state are not currently using the technology, the California State Sheriffs' Association expressed disappointment at the passing of the new law.

"Even a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition could limit law enforcement's efficacy and limit its ability to fight crime and prevent crime," says Cory Salzillo, the Association’s legislative director.

9 comments
martinwinlow
How very depressing. Quite why it appears to be morally wrong to employ a machine to recognise a criminal when humans doing the same thing (and even occasionally making mistakes) has been the cornerstone of law-enforcement since it all began, is a complete mystery. Impeding the efficacy of law-enforcement now and into the future with this ill-conceived and utterly neurotic attitude will without, a shadow of a doubt, allow tech-savvy criminals to gain the upper hand over our, generally, law-abiding society. Limiting how this sort of technology is used by the authorities is one thing, banning it all together is as pathetic as it is moronic.
FB36
IMHO, Facial Recognition & License Plate Scanner techs are immensely beneficial for law enforcement & common good of general public! Imagine a future world where/when law enforcement can quickly find & catch any wanted criminals! Imagine a future world where/when criminals can no longer walk or drive around @ public places/streets! Would not these be immensely beneficial for law enforcement & common good of general public? (License Plate Scanners could also detect drivers who did not pay fines/fees/insurance etc.) (By the way, IMHO, electronic license plates should/must never be allowed to be legal anywhere, because they can be easily reprogrammed later, to defeat License Plate Scanners, by displaying fake license plates!) Facial Recognition tech can also be used for ticketless public transportation & shopping etc, w/o needing to carry money or card etc. Also, Facial Recognition & License Plate Scanner techs are bad/evil, just because, they can do the same job, better (cheaper & more accurately & immensely faster) than any law enforcement people can? What about privacy you ask? IMHO, general public is not really obsessed about privacy, unlike self-appointed "privacy advocates" always claim/pretend! IMHO, the only people who are always really obsessed about "privacy" are criminals & their tireless supporters!
guzmanchinky
This is a terrible decision, unless you're a criminal.
bwana4swahili
More California insanity BUT great for criminals / terrorists in the state! Just waiting for the next terrorist attack then we'll see the kickback...
Michael Welch
I like how the the first comments are all saying this is bad,wonder if they work in law enforcement?
toni24
Should have been permanent. I am normally a bit on the conservative side of politics, but facial recognition seems too much like Orwell's "1984" where "Big Brother" is always watching. You cannot have total security without sacrificing Liberty and I would take Liberty over Security any day because I am not afraid to shoot criminals who attack me
ljaques
I wonder if that can be upheld against officers from ICE, who would benefit from it in the extreme.
guzmanchinky
I agree with FB36, this is like license plate scanners. If you are driving in public you have no right to privacy. I sure would be happy if someone stole my car or my kid and I had a license plate and it made the difference between finding them or not. Of course there should be stringent laws in place as to what is done with the info, and with face scanners even if it mistakes me for a terrorist the law should not simply tackle me to the ground with guns at my head, but I don't mind if a cop comes up to me and says "hey, my scanner picked you up as someone we want to talk to, probably a false ID, but can you simply show me your ID and I'll apologize for delaying you and you'll be on your way".
christopher
@guzmanchinky - what if you went to jail for murder, just because you happened to be nearby when one was committed? That already happened. You seem to forget that there are no police enforcing the laws that apply to police or government - you can't just say "so long as stringent rules apply" blah blah - because nobody exists to enforce those. It is easy to erase your freedoms. It is nearly impossible to ever get them back.