Jackson Announces a Ban on Facial Recognition Technology

February 13, 2020

SACRAMENTO – Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced plans today to introduce legislation to impose a five year ban on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other public entities.

The bill, which Jackson will be introducing in the coming weeks, would ban the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other public entities for the next five years, require a study examining the impacts of the technology on our privacy, civil rights and civil liberties, and ban in perpetuity the use of Californians’ personal information held in government databases, including photographs, for use in any biometric surveillance system without a person’s consent.

The announcement comes on the heels of facial recognition technology bans enacted in American cities including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Somerville, Cambridge, and Brookline. Recent news reports by the New York Times have exposed a facial recognition app created by a company called Clearview AI that is reportedly being used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the country without public knowledge or approval.

“This is an invasive and frequently inaccurate technology that gives those who use it the unprecedented ability to track people, potentially compromising our safety, our civil rights, our democracy, and our fundamental right to privacy,” said Jackson. “As a society, we cannot naively embrace a potentially invasive technology without seriously grappling first with the implications of its use.”

Jackson said her legislation will do the following:

-           Make it unlawful for state or local government entities to acquire, possess, access, or use any biometric surveillance system for the next five years.

-           Require a commission to develop recommendations to the State Legislature after conducting a study examining the impacts of the technology on our privacy, civil liberties and civil rights.

-           Make it unlawful for state or local government entities, including the DMV, to share photographs or information for use in any biometric surveillance system, private or public, without consent.

-           Will in no way prohibit a local government from taking stronger action to ban facial recognition technology in public or private spaces.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.