We just stopped one of the largest, longest running, and most controversial face recognition programs operated by local law enforcement in the United States.
A face recognition system used by
In October, EFF sent a letter to SANDAG demanding it suspend the program to comply with a new law that takes effect at the beginning of the year. Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, A.B.1215 creates a three-year moratorium on law enforcement use of face recognition connected with cameras carried by police officers. These cameras include body-worn cameras and handheld devices.
Launched in 2012, San Diegos programthe Tactical Identification System (TACIDS)provided 1,309 specialized face-recognition tablets and phones to dozens of local, state, and federal agencies. Between 2016 and 2018, officers had conducted more than 65,500 scans with the devices.
To ensure compliance with AB 1215, operation of the TACIDS program will be suspended beginning January 1, 2020, writes Pam Scanlon, head of SANDAGs Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) in the agenda memo. ARJIS will notify all law enforcement partners that TACIDS access will be suspended, which will include removal of the TACIDS Booking Photo interface and all user access to TACIDS systems.
The agenda also indicates SANDAG will not renew the contract with the face recognition vendor, FaceFirst, when it expires in March 2020.
In the same agenda, SANDAG also reveals that in October it disabled all ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations accounts across the agencys law enforcement databases and computer systems to comply with guidance from the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) on S.B. 54, the California Values Act. This law is designed to limit how local law enforcement may collaborate with immigration enforcement activities. EFF and immigrant rights groups successfully lobbied CADOJ to restrict ICE access to law enforcement databases, andEFF specifically called on SANDAG to address this issue after data revealed ICE was using the face recognition devices.
The end of San Diegos program marks a major victory in the nationwide battle against face surveillance. But it doesnt stop here. Join our campaign to end face surveillance on the local level across the county.
For more information on San Diegos face recognition program, read our October 2019 report and letter.