May 5, 2020
The NAACP San Diego Branch was founded in 1916, and has been standing sentry over the civil rights of San Diego residents for a century. Just because we are 101 years old, however, doesn’t mean we don’t understand technology and the dangers to civil rights posed by that technology.
Every danger we face gives the authoritarians in government an opportunity to restrict our liberty, and those restrictions always fall most heavily on African-Americans and Latinx folks. The “Communist Threat” gave us COINTELPRO, 9-11 gave us the Patriot Act (which was used to target brown folks), San Diego has been using “Smart Lights” to monitor our communities, and now our State legislators want to use COVID-19 to eliminate privacy in public life through the use of facial recognition software.
As usual, beside the loss of privacy that everyone will suffer, an extra burden falls on African-Americans and Latinx folks, because the software simply doesn’t work as well for them. African-Americans will not be recognized and misrecognized at higher rates than the rest of the population. This will lead to them being denied services and opportunities at a much higher rate than the rest of the population.
We urge you to write your State representatives and ask them to vote NO on AB-2261. It will do far more damage than good.
Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch