Bill to Ban Face Surveillance Introduced in Congress

June 25, 2020

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) today introduced legislation to stop government use of biometric surveillance, including facial recognition tools. The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act prohibits the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies by federal agencies, including Customs and Border Protection. “The use of face surveillance technology needs to end. Face surveillance violates Americans’ right to privacy, treats all individuals as suspicious, and threatens First Amendment-protected rights,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, EPIC Interim Associate Director and Policy Director. “The technology has been shown time and time again to be biased and inaccurate, frequently misidentifying people of color. EPIC has repeatedly called for a moratorium on the use of face surveillance and the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act of 2020 would stop the use of this dangerous technology. EPIC is proud to support it.” EPIC recently settled a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against Customs and Border Protection regarding the agency's "alternative screening procedures" to determine whether travelers are able to to opt-out of facial recognition at airports. EPIC has launched a campaign to Ban Face Surveillance. Previously, EPIC and a coalition urged the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to suspend the use of face surveillance systems across the federal government. And last year, the Public Voice coalition called for a global moratorium on face surveillance.

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