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Assembly Democratic-Sponsored Bill to Imposes Moratorium on Collection of Biometric Identifiers; Creates Commission Advances

To ensure the responsible use of data collected from biometric identifiers such as fingerprints and facial recognition, legislation (A-3625/A-4211) sponsored by Assembly Democrats to impose a moratorium on the collection of biometric identifiers by public entities, create a commission to recommend appropriate uses, and restrict private use of biometric information cleared an Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology on Monday.

Biometric identifiers allow a person to be uniquely identified through an unchangeable physical characteristic or behavior. The most well-known biometric identifier is a fingerprint, but new technologies allow the identification of people based on how they walk or on their facial features. These features are as distinctive as fingerprints but are different because they can be collected at a distance by today’s camera and recording technology.

Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon), Tom Giblin (D-Essex), Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) issued the following statement on the bill:

“A sustained use of remote biometrics by any entity has the potential for misapplication and loss of privacy for individuals and whole communities. Although biometric technology helps us every day in many different fields including law enforcement, we still have to remain vigilant and ensure this data is only being used for good.

“There can be value in the use of remote biometrics in tracking; however, we are seeing its use on a broader scale in China and in certain areas of the United States such as cities like Detroit tracking individuals in real-time as they go about their daily lives.

“Understanding remote biometric technology, having guidance on ways to curb inappropriate uses of the technology, and setting transparency or accountability guidelines is paramount to preventing abuse of cutting edge technology. It is key to ensuring public safety and privacy protection. Bringing together a panel of experts from public policy, law enforcement, and academia will help the legislature understand how to use this technology appropriately without infringing on civil liberties.”