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California Blocks Police From Using Facial Recognition in Body Cameras

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

SACRAMENTO — Civil liberties advocates are declaring victory after California became the latest state to block police from using facial recognition technology in body cameras.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB1215 on Tuesday, prohibiting police departments from outfitting body cameras with technology to identify people through their facial features or other biometric traits. The law takes effect Jan. 1 and expires in 2023, but can be renewed.

State lawmakers passed the bill after Amazon’s Rekognition facial recognition software incorrectly identified 26 legislators as criminal suspects, including the assemblyman who carried the measure, San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting.

Ting said the test, conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California using lawmakers’ photos, showed that the technology is error-prone and could lead to officers arresting innocent people.

“Let’s not become a police state,” Ting said after the bill passed the Legislature. He said officers’ body cameras should be used “as they were originally intended — to provide police accountability and transparency.”