Will Newsom Show His Anti Police Stripes Again With AB 1215 Facial Recognition Body Cams

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The Golden State is one step closer to banning police departments from using facial recognition in body cameras. The California State Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would prevent police from using the two technologies together for three years.

California lawmakers sent the bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday to ban police for three years from using facial recognition technology in body cameras — a vote that came after the software incorrectly identified 26 of them as criminal suspects.

AB1215, written by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would prohibit police departments from outfitting body cameras with the technology until after Jan. 1, 2023. The Assembly voted 46-21 to pass the bill, giving it final legislative approval.

“Let’s not become a police state and keep body cameras as they were originally intended – to provide police accountability and transparency,” Ting said in a statement after Thursday’s vote.

Law enforcement groups oppose AB 1215, with the California Peace Officers Association putting it on a list of laws the group considers threats to effective policing and crime reduction. In addition, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said in a statement, “Instead of banning facial recognition technology, California policymakers should create guardrails to prevent potential abuses.”

The bill would make California the largest state to ban the software in body cameras. A few states, including Oregon and New Hampshire, have similar bans. San Francisco and Oakland have already adopted more sweeping prohibitions.

Newsom hasn’t said if he supports the measure. He has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto it.

The bill is opposed by the California Peace Officers’ Association and several other law enforcement groups, which say facial-recognition tools could help identify criminals at large events like the Olympics.

“By banning this technology, California will be announcing to the nation and world that it doesn’t want our law enforcement officers to have the necessary tools they need to properly protect the public and attendees of these events,” the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association wrote in a letter to lawmakers.



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