Sci-Fi Legislation

California, despite doing its best to chase film and TV production to places like Vancouver, is still widely regarded as the entertainment capitol of the planet. Some of the best sci-fi films and TV shows ever made were made right here in the Golden State. In keeping with that cinematic history, it should come as no surprise that some of the best sci-fi legislation ever written has also come from this State.

The first bit of Hugo Award winning legislation that comes to mind is our microstamping law. While it’s possible to make this technology work in a lab setting, doing so in a production environment would require a surplus replicator from the U.S.S. Enterprise to work. This may seem worthy of a few giggles except that no modern handgun may be offered for sale here. Only “legacy” designs are legal to sell and the list of allowed handguns is shrinking every year.

The latest example of creative writing comes from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty. AB 2459, as we’ve mentioned before, requires that all firearm and ammo sales be videotaped. The law also requires that the video be kept by the dealer for a period of 5 years and that it be of high enough quality that facial recognition software can use the data. (The bill does a number of other onerous things that we’ll get to later.) In some circumstances, the data may need to be retained for up to 10 years. This all got me thinking that there could be some other hardware that we’d need to borrow from the Enterprise: Her data storage.

Depending on the data format, high definition video requires at least 10 GB of storage for every hour of recording. Some formats require over 500 GB per hour. But for our purposes, let’s assume that a 10 GB/hour format is acceptable to the DOJ. Keep in mind that’s 10 GB per hour per camera. So how many cameras are we talking about?

To actually record facial data, and not just the bills of baseball caps, the cameras would have to be mounted at roughly eye level; not up near the ceiling. Many gun stores have long guns in that space already, so the cameras would have to be mounted in front of the rifles and shotguns. This puts the camera, with a 24mm, f/2.8 lens, about 2 meters from the customers’ faces with a roughly 3 meter field of view. Assuming 50 feet of counter space, 5 cameras would be needed to cover the counter space. Let’s assume 2 more for the parking lot, 1 for the entry, 1 for the cash register, and 1 for an area where boxes of shotshells are stacked. This is probably too few, but let’s say 10 cameras in total.

OK… So that’s 10 cameras, recording 120 GB of data each throughout a 12 hour business day. If the shop is open 360 days per year, that’s 4320 hours of video per camera per year not counting whatever might be recorded by the required motion detection feature. Over the course of 5 years, the shop owner would have to archive 2.2 PB of data. Stored on dual layer Blu-Ray disks, these data would require 43,200 disks; a stack 170 feet tall.

If only sad puppies were all we had to worry about because of this bill!

Click here for more information about AB 2459 and what you can do about it.

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