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 WydenDemocrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign MORE (Ore.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe CNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Bloomberg qualifies for South Carolina primary debate MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe CNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor How the media fall in and out of love with candidates MORE (Calif.) and Reps. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThere's no such thing as a free bus Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Tlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech MORE (Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDon't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Omar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat Will Bernie have to turn on his bros? MORE (Mich.), wrote in a letter to HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonMelania Trump receives university's 'Woman of Distinction' award amid pushback from students California Gov. Gavin Newsom on the homeless: 'We own this issue' Trump touts initiative for disadvantaged communities in Charlotte 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.” 

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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.