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San Diego to suspend police and ICE facial biometrics system to comply with new state law

San Diego to suspend police and ICE facial biometrics system to comply with new state law

The Tactical Identification System (TACIDS) used for biometric facial recognition by more than 30 agencies in San Diego, California, will be suspended on January 1, 2020, blocking access by police, ZDNet reports.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) campaigned against the system, which it says was used 65,500 times between 2016 and 2018.

TACIDS is available to local, state, and federal officials, allowing them to access a database of facial recognition scans to compare images of “uncooperative persons” and those with outstanding warrants, taken with officer’s handheld devices, against.

California has moved to temporarily block the use of facial recognition on law enforcement body cameras and handheld devices. Now, the Public Safety Committee of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), which manages TACIDS, has produced a document dated December 20, 2019, announcing its operation will be suspended to comply with the state legislation, Assembly Bill 1215. Access by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had been suspended in October, when the agency chose not to sign a new subscriber agreement requiring compliance with California Senate Bill 54 to remove all immigration-related records from the database, the document also shows.

The software agreement behind TACIDS, which the EFF says is with FaceFirst, expires in March, 2020, so the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) will save $175,000 previously budgeted for the project through the suspension.

A letter from the EFF to ARJIS in October said that AB 1215 requires the TACIDS program to be suspended, and that the program threatens civil liberties. The group also said that 1,309 devices capable of performing facial biometrics have been distributed to law enforcement officials in San Diego County.

Legislation restricting the use of facial recognition is also being considered elsewhere at the state level.

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