News Release

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Commends California Gov. Newsom and the California Legislature for Banning Facial Recognition Technology on Police-Worn Body Cameras

Washington, DC (Oct. 10, 2019) – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed The Body Camera Accountability Act (AB 1215) into law this week, effectively banning the use of facial recognition technology on police body cameras in California for three years.

In a landmark 2017 report, Policing Body Cameras: Policies and Procedures to Safeguard the Rights of the Accused, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) issued several recommendations regarding the continued use of body cameras, including a recommendation urging against the addition of biometric surveillance and facial recognition on law enforcement body cameras.

“A major recommendation in NACDL’s 2017 report on police body cameras, was to ‘prohibit the use of any biometric technologies in conjunction with body cameras,’” said NACDL President Nina J. Ginsberg. “This new law in California is consistent with NACDL’s recommendation and serves as a model for other states to adopt. NACDL applauds its passage and hopes to see further steps to protect the public from mass surveillance.”

Through letters and alerts to its leaders, members, and ally groups, NACDL advocated for the passage of AB 1215, originally introduced in California by Assembly member Phil Ting. The bill will serve not only as a public safety protection and a barrier to further mass surveillance, it also recognizes that facial recognition technology has been repeatedly demonstrated to misidentify women, young people, and people of color. California is now the largest state in the country to ban facial recognition technology on police body cams.

Click here to read NACDL’s 2017 report and recommendations: Policing Body Cameras: Policies and Procedures to Safeguard the Rights of the Accused.

Groups who supported the bill, including: ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of California, AIDS Legal Referral Panel, API Chaya, Anti Police-Terror Coalition, Asian Law Alliance, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, Citizens Rise!, Color of Change, Council on American-Islamic Relations – California, CRASH Space, Data for Black Lives, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, Indivisible CA, Justice Teams Network, Media Alliance, Media Justice, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Oakland Privacy, RAICES, README at UCLA, Root Access, San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, Secure Justice, Transgender Law Center, Library Freedom Project, Tor Project, and X-Lab.

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Madeline Sklar, Public Affairs and Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7647 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.