House Homeland Security panel to hold hearings on DHS’s use of biometric information in wake of CBP breach

Stefani Reynolds

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold hearings next month on the Department of Homeland Security’s use of biometric information, committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced Monday.

Thompson’s announcement was made on the heels of the disclosure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that a subcontractor had suffered a data breach, compromising photos of travelers and license plates compiled by the border agency.

{mosads}CBP told The Hill the subcontractor that had its network breached had not been given permission to transfer CBP photos to its system. CBP has not named the subcontractor, and told The Hill that as of Monday, none of the images involved in the breach has been discovered on the darknet.

Thompson criticized CBP and the Department of Homeland Security in general for allowing the data breach to occur, saying in a statement that the privacy of Americans can’t be compromised.

“Government use of biometric and personal identifiable information can be valuable tools only if utilized properly,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, this is the second major privacy breach at DHS this year. We must ensure we are not expanding the use of biometrics at the expense of the privacy of the American public.”

A spokesperson for Thompson told The Hill that the committee “hopes to have government witnesses” at the hearings, but had no further details on dates in July the hearings will take place. 

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