ACLU Comment on Axon’s Decision to Ban Facial Recognition on Body Cameras

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SAN FRANCISCO – Axon, a maker of officer worn body cameras used by many United States police departments, today announced that it will not add facial recognition systems to those devices.

This announcement comes as the California Legislature considers the ACLU-sponsored Body Camera Accountability Act (AB 1215), a bill that would prohibit the use of facial recognition and other biometric surveillance on law enforcement body cameras, and as the Massachusetts Legislature considers its own legislation halting the government’s use of these systems.

Matt Cagle, Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, said:

Body cameras should be for police accountability, not surveillance of communities. One of the nation’s largest suppliers of police body cameras is now sounding the alarm and making the threat of face surveillance technology impossible to ignore. The California legislature, and legislatures throughout the country, should heed this warning and act to keep police body cameras from being deployed against communities. The same goes for companies like Microsoft and Amazon, who also have an independent obligation to act, as Axon did today. Face surveillance technology is ripe for discrimination and abuse, and fundamentally incompatible with body cameras — regardless of its accuracy.

The Body Camera Accountability Act heads next to the California Senate floor for approval after passage last month by the California Assembly.

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