Members of the United States Congress on Thursday introduced a bill which proposes to prohibit federal agencies and officials from acquiring, possessing, accessing, and even using “any biometric surveillance system”, such as facial recognition technology. The bill even stops federal agencies from using information derived by such systems operated by other entities. It also proposes to withhold federal funding through the Byrne grant program for state and local governments that use the technology. Called the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, 2020, the bill has been drafted by senators Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, and representatives Ayanna Pressley, and Pramila Jaypal. The bill follows an incident in Detroit where a black man was wrongfully arrested by the police based on incorrect information provided by a facial recognition system. The bill also comes only days after the city of Boston banned the use of facial recognition technology by the city’s government, and prohibited any city official from obtaining the technology from third parties. Senator Merkley has previously co-drafted a similar bill, seeking a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology. “Introduced on the same day that the House is set to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, our legislation will not only protect civil liberties but it will aggressively fight back against racial injustice by stopping federal entities from using facial recognition tools and stripping support for state and local law enforcement departments that use biometric technology,” congresswoman Jaypal said in a statement. Provisions of the bill Information from…
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