Booker introduces bill banning facial recognition tech in public housing

Booker introduces bill banning facial recognition tech in public housing
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act MORE (D-N.J.) on Friday introduced a bill banning the use of facial recognition technology in public housing, mirroring legislation proposed in the House in July.

The No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act would block the tech from being installed in housing units that receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“Using facial recognition technology in public housing without fully understanding its flaws and privacy implications seriously harms our most vulnerable communities,” Booker, a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a statement.

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“Facial recognition technology has been repeatedly shown to be incomplete and inaccurate, regularly targeting and misidentifying women and people of color. We need better safeguards and more research before we test this emerging technology on those who live in public housing and risk their privacy, safety, and peace of mind.”

Facial recognition technology, which scans faces for the purposes of identifying individuals, has received increasing scrutiny over the past few months.

Civil rights groups have expressed concerns that the technology expands unwarranted surveillance and highlighted studies that have found certain products misidentify women and people of color at higher rates.

There is currently no federal law dictating when, how, where or why facial recognition technology can be used.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pledged they will work up legislation that would limit, or even impose a temporary ban on, facial recognition technology.

The House version of the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act, introduced by Reps. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Dems 'frustrated' by coronavirus response after briefing | Mulvaney claims press covering outbreak to take Trump down | Pence bolsters task force House approves bill banning flavored tobacco products Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.), has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee.

Booker's is the second bill introduced on the issue in the Senate this year. Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzLawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act Rand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Senate Democrats vow to keep pushing for more funds for mail-in voting MORE (R-Mo.) earlier this year introduced a bill to regulate the commercial use of facial recognition technology.

Several local and state governments have taken it into their own hands to curtail or ban facial recognition technology, including California, Oregon and New Hampshire, where law enforcement has been barred from using it.