Morning Report: San Diego Withheld Facial Rec Info From Congress | Voice of San Diego


Morning Report: San Diego Withheld Facial Rec Info From Congress

Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks at a press conference announcing San Diego Police Department’s decision to stop using the carotid restraint method. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In 2017, the main investigative arm of the U.S. House of Representatives reached out to San Diego with a request for documents. Congress was doing research on the spread of facial recognition and wanted to know how the city was pioneering a controversial form of technology capable of unmasking individuals.

The picture it got was less than complete.

Jesse Marx compared the documents in the committee’s possession against a larger set he compiled from local sources. He found the city’s response was overwhelmingly positive in its scope, downplaying and even omitting internal concerns while giving a stunted view of how prevalent the program really was before the state shut it down.

Crucially, Congress never received a pair of privacy impact assessments that warned of the inherent racial bias embedded in the technology and its potential for abuse. Also missing was a testimonial from an ICE agent who’d gone into local jails to ID undocumented people.

There’s still some mystery over how the response went down because most of the records originated with ARJIS, a regional law enforcement agency. But the initial complaint over the city’s response to Congress stems from a wrongful termination suit filed last year by a former San Diego employee. Her attorney alleges that she lost her job for trying to blow the whistle and that the city took steps to avoid creating a paper trail.

Indeed, the city never kept a copy of the documents that it gathered up and ultimately sent to Congress. 

Politics Roundup

  • The Politics Report has the latest on the proposal to cut library hours, and why libraries aren’t reopening anytime soon no matter what happens with the budget.
  • There was a lotta news out of Sacramento. Assemblyman Chris Ward has introduced a bill intended to curtail the spread of made-at-home firearms like the one allegedly used in the Gaslamp last month. Meanwhile, San Diego’s district attorney is backing a bill to more heavily regulate online and non-classroom-based charter schools and Mayor Todd Gloria joined others in asking the state for $4 billion in homeless funding.
  • The recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom is officially a go now that opponents have gathered enough signatures. On the podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby consider the mechanics of a statewide recall election, what you’ll see on the ballot (likely in November) and how you’ll be able to vote. Keatts also walked through his story about radio host Carl DeMaio’s group, which is facing criticism from fellow conservatives. 
  • Our pal Katy Stegall over at KPBS reports that the cannabis industry is becoming a bigger player in local politics. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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