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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 BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires 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 ClarkeLawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna Pressley'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Louisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' 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 SchatzACLU sues DHS for records on purchased cell phone data to track immigrants DHS watchdog to probe agency's tracking of Americans' phone data without a warrant Tech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate committee approves nominations of three FEC commissioners Congress faces late-year logjam The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Barr splits with Trump on election; pardon controversy 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.