U.S. House Committee in talks to restrict federal funding for facial biometrics

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The U.S. House Oversight Committee is considering placing a moratorium on funding for any new or expanded use of biometric facial recognition by federal agencies with new legislation, Politico reports.

Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the committee’s ranking Republican and a vocal critic of the processes used by federal agencies to share biometric information during recent hearings, told Politico that a block on new uses is being considered, along with restrictions on existing use of the technology.

“We don’t want any more money being used, no money used to expand what we have or to purchase any new ability to impact or use this technology,” he says.

The discussions are taking place mainly at the staff level at this time, Jordan says, and the proposal has not been finalized, but he is hoping fast progress will be made when Congress returns to Washington in September, saying “(t)his is [one] area where we can actually make some progress and get something done for the American taxpayer.”

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement: “Although the Committee has not called for a broad moratorium at this stage, I personally feel that we should consider it.” A spokesperson for his office declined to comment on the new legislative proposal in the works.

Dissatisfaction with the current state of federal agency biometrics use has been widespread and bi-partisan at committee meetings earlier this year.

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