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Proposed U.S. Senate bill to halt facial biometrics use by law enforcement until new commission reports



A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would place a temporary moratorium on the use of biometric facial recognition by law enforcement until it is studied by a dedicated commission, CNet reports.

Police would still be able to use the technology with a warrant under the “Ethical Use of Facial Recognition Act.” The bill’s text suggests that a moratorium is necessary, due to the disproportionate impact it has on minorities, activists and immigrants, and the increasing use of the technology “without appropriate debate or consideration of its impacts.”

The bill was introduced by Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (Oregon) and Cory Booker (New Jersey), and as such has little chance of being passed in a government session defined by partisan division.

Enforcement mechanisms include the right to private action, and a halt to federal funding for facial recognition software, services, and data. The legislation is intended to protect First Amendment rights and other civil liberties, including privacy rights, from being threatened.

The moratorium would be planned to come to an end after a new commission is established, and comes to an agreement on recommended guidelines and limitations for government use of face biometrics.

The American Civil Liberties Union supports the legislation.

“This bill is a strong recognition by Congress of the technology’s dangers and the concerns communities nationwide have raised over law enforcement use of it,” says ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani in a statement.

Congress continues to hold committee meetings and engage with the implications of facial recognition technology in various ways.

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