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Democratic lawmakers call for HUD review of facial recognition in federal housing

Democratic lawmakers call for HUD review of facial recognition in federal housing
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A group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to review the use of facial recognition in federally assisted housing amid concerns the technology amplifies existing biases.

The lawmakers cited reports of public and federal housing administrators installing facial recognition technology, which scans faces for the purposes of identifying individuals, in buildings.

“[HUD] is responsible for creating and ensuring discrimination-free practices in all communities,” the Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Biden slams Texas, Mississippi for lifting coronavirus restrictions: 'Neanderthal thinking' | Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra |Over 200K sign up for ACA plans during Biden special enrollment period Raimondo has won confirmation, but the fight to restrict export technology to China continues Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra MORE (Ore.), Cory BookerCory BookerHillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans Why do we still punish crack and powder cocaine offenses differently? MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMichelle Obama says 'everyone was concerned' about potential violence at Biden inauguration Ella Emhoff, inauguration designer join forces on knitwear collaboration Who is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? MORE (Calif.) and Reps. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyPressley says image of Black custodial staff cleaning up Capitol after Jan. 6 riot 'haunts' her DeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes DeJoy set for grilling by House Oversight panel MORE (Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibProgressives push White House to overturn wage ruling Six ways to visualize a divided America Jamaal Bowman's mother dies of COVID-19: 'I share her legacy with all of you' MORE (Mich.), wrote in a letter to HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonBiden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug Ben Carson launches conservative think tank Trump's '1776 Report' released on MLK Day receives heavy backlash MORE.

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“However, as numerous civil rights experts have pointed out, when public housing and federally assisted property owners install facial recognition security camera systems, they could be used to enable invasive, unnecessary and harmful government surveillance of their residents. Those who cannot afford more do not deserve less in basic privacy and protections. They should not have to compromise their civil rights and liberties nor accept the condition of indiscriminate, sweeping government surveillance to find an affordable place to live.” 

Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Mellman: How the Senate decided impeachment Senate confirms Rouse as Biden's top economist MORE (D-Ohio) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeLawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation DHS announces new measures to boost nation's cybersecurity Hassan to chair Senate emerging threats subcommittee MORE (D-N.Y.) also signed onto the letter.

The demand for HUD to review the technology comes amid increasing scrutiny of facial recognition.

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.

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Booker introduced legislation last month banning the use of facial recognition technology in public housing, mirroring a bill introduced by Clarke, Pressley and Tlaib in the House.

The No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act would block the technology from being installed in any housing units that receive funding from HUD.

Both bills have been referred to committee.