Use of Facial Recognition Software Temporarily Banned

Use of Facial Recognition Software Temporarily Banned

Sacramento

Last week California legislators placed a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition software in police body cameras by police agencies at both the state and local levels. It does not however apply to the FBI. Assembly Bill 1215—the Body Camera Accountability Act—is designed to limit/deter the use of this technology as critics continue to express concern over the technology’s impact on privacy and issues related to accuracy.  The legislation is now being considered by Governor Newsom who must decide whether to sign it into law—a decision must be made by October 13. If signed into law the measure becomes effective January 1, 2020—the measure would expire in three years.  The ACLU supports the bill which forbids police from using biometric surveillance technology, including facial-recognition software, in police body cameras. And, the restriction does not end there. It further prohibits the police from running body-camera footage through facial-recognition software at another time.   The legislation however is not all encompassing as officers can still use the technology in other ways like on stationary cameras from example.  Facial recognition technology identifies people from live or recorded video or still photos and compares their facial features with those in a database of faces—police mugshots account for many of the images in the database.  Admittedly, the technology offers numerous crime-fighting benefits, but it also harbors the potential for bias and misuse as research has shown the technology is not as accurate regarding the identification of women and people of color.  Currently, there are no federal regulations establishing guardrails for the use of artificial intelligence including facial recognition.

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