Senator had previously called on DHS to pause deployment of facial recognition technology until it instituted enforceable rules prioritizing cybersecurity and protecting travelers’ privacy


Washington (December 3, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey, Ranking Member of the Security Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it is considering a proposal to mandate that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure from U.S. airports. Senator Markey, along with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), has been leading the effort calling on DHS to provide Congress with information on the agency’s use of biometric identification technology. Senator Markey’s efforts continued in the wake of a breach of traveler and vehicle images at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where up to 100,000 individuals were affected by the theft of images of license plates and travelers’ faces that were stolen from a CBP subcontractor.


“The Department of Homeland Security should immediately withdraw plans to force Americans to undergo facial recognition and hand over their biometric information,” said Senator Markey. “This proposal would amount to disturbing government coercion, and as the recent data breach at Customs and Border Protection shows, Homeland Security cannot be trusted to keep our information safe and secure. I will soon introduce legislation to ensure that innocent American citizens are never forced to hand over their facial recognition information.”


Senators Markey and Lee have previously questioned DHS on the effectiveness and transparency of its biometric exit program.