Merkley, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Ban Government Use of Facial Recognition and Other Biometric Technology | U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon

Legislation stops federal entities’ use of facial recognition tools and strips federal support for state and local law enforcement entities that use biometric technology

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, along with U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), and Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), have announced the introduction of bicameral legislation to stop government use of biometric technology, including facial recognition tools. The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act responds to reports that federal and local law enforcement entities have engaged with facial recognition companies and follows recent pledges by leading technology companies to pause their sale of facial recognition tools to law enforcement.

A growing body of research points to systematic inaccuracy and bias issues in biometric technologies, which pose disproportionate risks to non-white individuals. A recent report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology on facial recognition tools found that Black, Brown, and Asian individuals were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white male faces[1].  Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) amplified the story of Robert Williams, a Black man from the Detroit area who was wrongfully arrested after facial recognition technology misidentified him as the man who was seen allegedly committing a crime on a store’s surveillance camera feed.   

“At a time when Americans are demanding that we address systemic racism in law enforcement, the use of facial recognition technology is a step in the wrong direction. Studies show that this technology brings racial discrimination and bias,” said Senator Merkley. “Between the risks of sliding into a surveillance state we can’t escape from and the dangers of perpetuating discrimination, this technology is not ready for prime time. The federal government must ban facial recognition until we have confidence that it doesn’t exacerbate racism and violate the privacy of American citizens.”

1 2 3 4 5 6