California’s new police body cam law blocks the use of facial recognition

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A Los Angeles police officer wear an AXON body camera during the Immigrants Make America Great March to protest actions being taken by the Trump administration on February 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew via Getty Images

In August, backers of California’s Body Camera Accountability Act pointed out a test of facial recognition software that identified 26 state lawmakers as criminals. They argued it showed the flaws of such technology, and now Governor Gavin Newsom has signed AB1215 into law, preventing law enforcement in the state from “installing, activating, or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera or data collected by an officer camera” through 2023.

The bill’s sponsor, Phil Ting said of facial recognition tech, “It’s not ready for prime time, as it falsely matches innocent people with mugshots, including me.” ACLU technology and civil liberties attorney Matt Cagle said “With this law, California has acted boldly to stem the expansion of a surveillance state that presents an unprecedented threat to our rights and liberties. ace-scanning police body cameras have no place on our streets, where they can be used for dragnet and discriminatory surveillance of people going about their private lives, including their locations and personal associations.”

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