California rules against face recognition in bodycams
10 May 2019 12:26 GMT

California State Assembly has approved a proposal by Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that bans law enforcement from using facial recognition and biometric scanners in body cameras.

AB 1215 was passed in an attempt to "to protect privacy and prevent misuse of technology", read a statement on Tin's website.

“Without my bill, face recognition technology can subject law-abiding citizens to perpetual police line-ups, as their every movement is tracked without consent. Its use, if left unchecked, undermines public trust in government institutions and unduly intrudes on one’s constitutional right to privacy. AB 1215 is an important civil rights measure that will prevent exploitation of vulnerable communities,” said Ting.

The move was welcomed by US privacy NGOs.

“Body cameras should work for the people, not against the people,” says Matt Cagle, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. “Face-scanning body cameras would be a dangerous, radical expansion of surveillance powers at a time when our top priority should be creating new approaches to public safety that work for all of us.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on a proposal May 14 that bans local agencies from purchasing or using facial recognition technology. Oakland is also considering a similar prohibition. Both proposals go further than AB 1215, which only applies the ban to police-worn body cameras.