San Diego Accused Of Withholding Facial Recognition Info From Congress

By Rebekah Gonzalez

May 3, 2021

In 2017 Congress was doing research on the spread of facial recognition technology. The main investigative arm of the U.S. House of Representatives reached out to San Diego requesting documents.

They wanted to know how the city was pioneering the technology after reading articles that suggest San Diego's use of facial recognition was more advanced than other cities.

Now, Jesse Marx from the Voice of San Diego has found that the information the city provided to congress left out many important documents.

Tiffany Vinson, an employee of the city's Office of Homeland Security, was the first to accuse the city of withholding information from Congress in a lawsuit, saying she later lost her job for trying to blow the whistle on the situation.

In her lawsuit, Vinson claimed that the city routinely violated the California Public Records Act.

“The city hasn’t been forthcoming with many of these requests,” Dante Pride, Vinson's attorney, said. “If they can withhold pertinent documents … from the federal government, imagine what they’re doing to victims of police misconduct, people who are trying to get a little bit of oversight, Brown Act violations, etc.”

Marx found that Vinson's allegation was true, with the city's response leaving out documents and reports that cited internal concerns over the technology's racial bias and its potential for abuse.

You can read the full report here.

Photo: Getty Images

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