Ban on Police Using Biometric Surveillance System Clears California...

Ban on Police Using Biometric Surveillance System Clears California Senate

By Gov CIO Outlook | Monday, September 23, 2019

A law has been proposed to prohibit police from equipping their body cameras with facial recognition software for 3 years owing to the inaccuracy of the technology.

FREMONT, CA: A recent California bill that bans the use of facial recognition software in police body cameras has been passed by the state senate. The ongoing concern is that biometric technology is slowly disrupting the privacy of the general public. The bill supports more strengthened privacy protections for residents. The bill is yet to become a law and is waiting for a vote from the Assembly and a signature from the governor.

The Body Camera Accountability Act is strict against police who install, activate, or use any biometric surveillance system in his camera for three years. The law insists that police should not put facial recognition technology suspecting its reliability because it is more inaccurate in distinguishing women and minorities.  The inaccuracy and biased nature of facial recognition systems are also valid in terms of identifying the colour of people. An example would be a study conducted by Amazon’s Rekognition program incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress to mugshots of individuals who have been previously arrested. Facial and other biometric surveillance would transform the core purpose of body-worn cameras by transforming them from transparency and accountability tools into roving surveillance systems.

The government’s use of face surveillance in the body-worn cameras has severe implications for privacy, racial justice, and free speech. And the Senate has listened to the disadvantages mentioned opposing the way government agencies use face surveillance. If California passes the ban, then the state will be following the footsteps of San Francisco that has recently banned the adoption of technologies on San Francisco residents. Now the police in the city have been asked to be transparent about the use of surveillance technology concerning time and place. Similarly, cities like Somerville and Oakland are enforcing this act on their residents.

Catalyzing the decision was resistance from law enforcement groups.  However, once the technology is revamped to detect faces accurately, it would be used in the officers’ camera. Using a technology that is still flawed could be dangerous that itself can make a lot of mistakes. Because the technology is still under study and it has to be researched and brought to the right standards.

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