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California Bans Facial Recognition in Police Body Cameras

Oct. 10, 2019, 2:55 PM

Law enforcement in California won’t be able to use facial recognition software in body cameras for three years, under a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Body Camera Accountability Act will take effect Jan. 1 and sunset in three years. Newsom (D) signed it into law Oct. 8.

The ban comes amid increasing concern over the potential harms of facial recognition and other biometric technology. Three cities recently blocked the use of facial recognition by municipal government and law enforcement. New Hampshire and Oregon have similar bans in place for police-worn body cameras.

California Assemblyman Phil Ting (D), who introduced the proposal, said in a statement that he’ll reconsider extending the ban after the law sunsets.

“The public wanted their officers and deputies to use body cameras to provide accountability and transparency for the community,” Ting said. “The addition of facial recognition technology essentially turns them into 24-hour surveillance tools, giving law enforcement the ability to track our every move.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Merken in Washington at smerken@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com