Washington (December 5, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Security Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reversed its position on a proposed plan to mandate that all travelers, including innocent U.S. citizens, be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure from U.S. airports.


Senator Markey will soon introduce legislation to ensure that innocent American citizens are never forced to hand over their facial recognition information.


“This is a victory for every single American traveler who flies on a plane, and a reminder that the we must remain vigilant protectors of our right to privacy,” said Senator Markey. “Thanks to swift and public pressure, Homeland Security is reversing course and not moving forward with its dystopian facial recognition proposal at U.S. airports. But we cannot take our right to privacy for granted. Americans still need protection from facial recognition technology, and I still plan to introduce legislation to ban this kind of invasive biometric surveillance.”


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