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California’s legislature bars, face detection technology, police body cameras

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California legislators on Thursday passed a three-year ban on state and local law enforcement of the body with the help of a camera with facial recognition software, with the latest braking technology, which some say poses a threat to civil liberties.

FILE PHOTO: Police in separate demonstators at an America First rally in Laguna Beach, California, USA, August 20, 2017.REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker

The State Assembly voted 42-18 for the bill, AB 1215, a vote in favor by the Senate on Wednesday. It will now head to the Governor’s office of Gavin Newsom’s desk for signing or veto, and it would take effect on Jan. 1, by the year 2020.

The law doesn’t allow civil servants to run face recognition in real-time or after the images are collected by the body cameras are in use. However, the police can still take advantage of the technology to blur faces within videos with the public, for the protection of individual privacy. Police groups opposed the bill, while others, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, and supported.

Assemblymember Phil Ting, the bill sponsor, said Thursday’s vote is important in order to maintain the confidence of the communities that have benefited from the transparency and digital cameras.

“If you are installing the software on a body camera, then you run the risk of really destroying that trust,” he told reporters. “It is an instrument of control, and that was never the goal.”

The bill reflects a growing dissatisfaction in the United States of america about face recognition that government agencies have used for years, and now it has become more powerful with the advent of cloud computing, and artificial intelligence technologies. San Francisco and Oakland voted this year to ban the city’s personnel in the use of it.

Critics have said facial recognition is not ready for prime time, pointing out that the technology of the Amazon.com Inc., and others, who are struggling to identify the gender of the people with dark skin in recent studies. This has led to the fear of arbitrary arrest.

Amazon has defended its work and said: “all users are required to follow the law.

California is poised to follow in the states, including Oregon, which banned facial recognition for an officer-worn camera, which is Referred to as bill compares to that, “that is, each person is to bring a personal photo identification card at all times.” It “may chill the exercise of free speech in public places,” the bill says.

A review of the same month is the timing of the proposed law, the term of office of three years, from seven in the evening, and the concern is that the technology is greatly improved. The California Police Chiefs Association, said on Twitter on Tuesday that the technology will only be used to narrow the lists of suspects in the investigation, but not for the automation of the decisions on who to arrest.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Sandra Maler

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