In early 2019, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), California’s largest utility, filed for bankruptcy in anticipation of being held liable for the 2018 Camp Fire, the most deadly wildfire in California history. While PG&E is an investor-owned utility (IOU), it serves 5.2 million households across the northern two-thirds of California and plays a critical role in the state’s energy generation, distribution and long-term goals. As the bankruptcy unfolds and California lawmakers decide how to weigh in on these proceedings, we highlight several key topics for consideration: renewable energy, energy access, and wildfire liability. Regardless of the outcome of PG&E’s bankruptcy, it is in California’s best interest for lawmakers to establish a robust wildfire fund, coordinate energy purchasing and distribution among new local energy providers, and scale up the development of local energy storage.
Establishing Privacy Advisory Commissions for the Regulation of Facial Recognition Systems at the Municipal Level
As facial recognition systems (FRS) become widely available, a growing number of local governing bodies across the country have adopted these technologies. Without regulating how and when these technologies are used, the adoption of FRS by municipal governments has the potential to violate civil liberties and disproportionately harm marginalized groups. FRS may be an invaluable tool for law enforcement; however, best practices must be adopted to curb their misuse, specifically at the municipal level. We propose that cities considering procurement of FRS create an independent privacy advisory commission with a clear mandate, guaranteed cooperation from local government, technology expertise, and community stakeholder input.