Senators call for DHS report on biometrics use and explanation for delay

The Department of Homeland Security was due to produce a report on its use of biometric technology, including its privacy implications and accuracy, weeks ago, and a pair of Senators are calling for its release, along with a “detailed explanation” for why the deadline was missed.

The agency was mandated to compile an extensive report on its use of biometrics and the implications of that use by the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018, which set a due date of July 2.

Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who have already called for DHS to pause the roll-out of its Biometric Entry/Exit program, wrote a letter (PDF) to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, expressing concern over the expansion of the agency’s biometrics deployments, in the aftermath of a subcontractor of DHS Customs and Border Patrol breaching personal information, license plates and facial images last month. The Senators note that they have also previously called for transparency in the process.

“American travelers deserve to fully understand exactly who has access to their biometric data, how long their data will be held, how their information will be safeguarded, and how they can opt out of this data collection altogether,” they write. “We believe that the report you are legally required to submit is intended to provide transparency to Congress and the public on the future use of this technology, enabling Congress to exercise appropriate oversight and to inform future legislative action.”

A response is requested by August 16, 2019.

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