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Bill Would Ban Facial Recognition in Public Housing

Last Wednesday, Legislation introduced in the House could effectively prohibit the use of facial recognition and biometric technology in both public and assisted housing units that are funded under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The new bill, introduced by three democratic Representatives, addressed several of the risks that come with the use of biometric identification in public housing. The bill has been titled the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act of 2021. According to the bill, more than two million Americans live in public housing across the country.

The Representatives cite misidentification of people of color and women as exacerbating the constant surveillance and criminalization the marginalized already face. They suggest that allowing biometric data collection and identification in public housing would add another layer of unnecessary surveillance and tension on these groups. The bill also requires the Department of Housing and Urban Development to submit a comprehensive research report to Congress consisting of any known use of facial recognition technologies in public housing units, the technology’s impact on residents, the reason for installing such units, the demographic information on impacted tenants, and the impact of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence on vulnerable communities.

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