Pass SB 1038

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California police want to turn their body cameras into face-scanning surveillance devices, and it’s up to us to tell them no. That’s why we’re sponsoring SB 1038 (Bradford), which makes permanent a state law keeping face surveillance technology off police body cameras. Body cameras were intended to guard against police misconduct, not to be used as an invasive surveillance system that identifies and tracks Californians.

Three years ago, we successfully prevented the harms of body camera face surveillance by passing a moratorium to stop it (AB 1215, Ting). But that law is about to expire. SB 1038 continues those protections, safeguarding our privacy and freedom of speech, helping prevent the misidentification and wrongful imprisonment of Californians, and halting the creation of face databases that are vulnerable to hacking and abuse.

Facial recognition has no place on officer body cameras. The widespread use of face recognition on police body cameras would be tantamount to requiring every person to show their photo ID card to every police officer they pass—regardless of whether they are suspected of a crime. This would be an unacceptable mass violation of privacy. It would also facilitate the creation of new databases of immigrants’ faces—databases that ICE has already demanded access to in other states.

Furthermore, study after study shows that facial recognition software is inaccurate and biased, generating up to 100 times more false positives for women and people of color. The nature of body camera footage – captured by shaky cameras with wide angle lenses that warp people’s faces – would exacerbate these accuracy problems.

The deployment of face recognition on body cameras would make face recognition ubiquitous throughout the state, further erode our fundamental rights, harm relationships between police and communities, and lead to dangerous misidentifications and people being wrongfully arrested, injured, and even killed by police.

Tell your state senator to protect Californians against face-scanning body cameras by voting YES on SB 1038.

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Facial recognition has no place on officer-worn body cameras. I’m writing in support of SB 1038, which would continue the current law’s prohibition of the use of facial recognition systems in connection with an officer cameras. This prohibition narrowly focuses on the use of facial recognition in the context of officer worn cameras only. It does not prohibit the use of face recognition in other contexts.

SB 1038 is a continuation of AB 1215 – authored by Assemblymember Ting in 2019; implemented in 2020 but set to expire on January 1, 2023. It protects Californian’s privacy and civil rights by ensuring that body cameras are not used as roving face surveillance devices.

For nearly three years, existing law has successfully prevented the harms of body camera face surveillance by protecting privacy, safeguarding our freedom of speech, helping prevent the wrongful imprisonment of Californians, and halting the creation of vulnerable biometric databases. California must ensure these protections do not sunset in 2023.

Please vote “AYE” on SB 1038.


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