California places three year ban on police facial recognition use

California has passed a bill placing a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by state law enforcement for the next three years.

Setting a precedent for facial recognition and biometric tech use in law enforcement, the Body Camera Accountability Act seeks to prevent the misuse of body cameras, particularly through face and biometric surveillance.

San Francisco and Oakland passed similar bills previously, setting a precedent for state-wide legislation to pass.

The bill comes into effect on 1 January 2020, and expires at the end of 2023 unless further laws are passed.

Assembly member Phil Ting says that the bill will protect Californians' privacy and check police who may be overreaching their exercise of power. He argued that, without the bill, facial recognition technology essentially turns body cameras into ‘a 24-hour surveillance tool’, giving law enforcement ‘the ability to track our every movement’.

He further stressed that body cameras should ‘provide police accountability and transparency’, and not lead towards a ‘police state’.


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