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 BookerSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Ex-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets 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 ClarkeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing Hillicon Valley: Tech CEOs brace for House grilling | Senate GOP faces backlash over election funds | Twitter limits Trump Jr.'s account The Hill's Coronavirus Report: INOVIO R&D Chief Kate Broderick 'completely confident' world will develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine; GOP boxed in on virus negotiations MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMinneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger Tlaib wins Michigan Democratic primary Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHuffPost reporter discusses progressives' successful showing on Tuesday Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal 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 SchatzLobbying world Overnight Defense: House passes defense bill that Trump threatened to veto | Esper voices concerns about officers wearing military garb Senate rejects broad restrictions on transfers of military-grade equipment to police MORE (D-Hawaii) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal House Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections 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.