Are Silicon Valley’s Federal Agencies Ready To Use Biometrics Technology?

By CIOReview | Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Biometrics technologies, like facial recognition, are of great help to federal agencies. However, is the legislative body working properly?

FREMONT, CA: Federal agencies concerned with national security, including the FBI and Homeland Security components like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Agency, are all utilizing different biometrics’ forms as part of their security missions and law enforcement.

Agencies are deploying biometric technologies like facial, fingerprint, and iris recognition and DNA. These newer technologies come with significant precision, privacy, and civil liberties concerns, tempting at least one lawmaker to call for a congressional workforce and legislation on how to use the tech.

According to Nextgov, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., whose district includes Silicon Valley and the majority of the businesses developing biometric technologies, said federal agencies should put a stop on any such programs until there are clear guidelines in place.

Certain points are mandatory to keep in mind, such as the intent is not discriminatory, the technology is not being used for profiling, and there is no systemic bias. If the companies initiate the process of utilizing the technology, complaints concerning race, gender, or religion might arise. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt guidelines for ensuring that the utilization is just.

Recently, TSA officials informed Nextgov that the technology is presently being utilized in limited pilots, and the agency is developing formal policies as the pilot builds.

Mr. Khanna recommends Congress to develop a task force and possess some skilled academics and industry experts that can help them by advising them on the technology standards. According to him, the standard should be federal and thoughtful and cannot be just a reflexive standard

Besides, Mr. Khanna said to Next Gov, “We should get ahead of that and ahead of artificial intelligence so that we don’t have the same situation that happened in privacy, where we don’t have a congressional standard, and we’re basically looking to Europe and the [General Data Protection Regulation].”