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Jayapal Leads Bipartisan Amendment Limiting Face Recognition Technology in Intelligence Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment led by Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, requiring Congressional oversight over the Intelligence Community’s use of face recognition technology. This amendment is a critical first step toward ensuring that our national security does not come at the expense of our individual liberties and right to privacy. She was joined in this amendment by Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), chair of the House Freedom Caucus, and Representative Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL).

This amendment will:

  • Require the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to the intelligence committees in the House and Senate on the use of this new technology to thoroughly examine the disparate impact this technology may have on communities of color and help us determine what, if any, uses should be allowed;
  • Express the sense of Congress that using this technology to suppress dissent or to target people based on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion is contrary to our nation’s values; and
  • Establish that Congress believes that the U.S. government should not sell or transfer face recognition surveillance technology to countries that are using such technology to suppress human rights.

“As a nation committed to freedom of speech and privacy, it is critical that we ensure that our national security activities do not come at the expense of our individual liberties and right to privacy. That’s why Congressional oversight of face recognition technology is so important. We cannot allow this technology or its uses to go unchecked, whether threatening our civil liberties here at home or allowing other countries to perpetuate human rights abuses. Our amendment is an important first step, and my colleagues and I will continue to work to ensure there are proper controls on the use, sale and transfer of this technology.” said Rep. Jayapal.

“The right to privacy is foundational to our country and must always be protected—and as defense technology develops, our government’s increased capabilities come with a new reality that privacy rights are more at risk than ever before. With this in mind, Congress must be vigilant in defense of civil liberties and act as a check against technology’s improper use. That’s why it is critical we conduct thorough oversight of facial recognition technology and prevent it from being used to infringe on Americans’ privacy,” said Rep. Meadows. 

“Facial recognition software is one of many emerging surveillance technologies used by federal agencies. Large amounts of data are being amassed with limited oversight about how and from whom they are collected. When misused, facial recognition systems not only threaten privacy rights, their proven algorithmic bias also disproportionately hurts communities of color. Congress must exercise close and continuous oversight of surveillance technologies to protect the rights of our constituents. ” said Rep. García.

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