Biometrics

Lawmakers seek answers on HUD's use of facial recognition

facial recognition (Shutterstock.com) 

Eight Democratic lawmakers, including noted privacy hawk Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are seeking answers from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about the use of facial recognition technology in public housing properties subsidized by HUD.

In a Dec. 18 letter, the lawmakers are seeking a breakdown of public housing and subsidized rental properties that have used facial recognition technology over the past five years and information on what cameras and software technology have been deployed. The letter also seeks information about whether there is policy about including residents in decisions about the deployment of facial recognition technology as a security measure and whether there are opt-out procedures for those who don't want their data collected.

The lawmakers also want to know if there are procedures for storing and securing biometric data in place, and whether HUD knows about any research linking the use of facial recognition technology with improved safety outcomes.

The letter expresses concern that such systems, "could be used to enable invasive, unnecessary and harmful government surveillance of their residents" and notes that residents "should not have to compromise their civil rights and liberties nor accept the condition of indiscriminate, sweeping government surveillance to find an affordable place to live."

In addition to Wyden, the letter is signed by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) along with Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rashida Talib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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