U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation that would prohibit private companies from collecting biometric data—including faceprints and fingerprints—without consumers' and employees' consent. The National Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2020 would allow consumers and state attorney general to file lawsuits if their biometric data is obtained without permission. It would also bar companies from selling that data.
- The proposed federal law mirrors a biometric privacy law in Illinois, which resulted in a $650m proposed settlement by Facebook for its photo-tagging feature.
- Merkley said the goal is to protect against a "'big brother' surveillance state" that threatens privacy and personal control of data.
- Sanders called facial recognition "Orwellian" and said the U.S. can't allow it to continue to violate Americans' civil liberties and privacies,
- The bill would bar companies like Clearview AI from providing facial recognition services outside of government contracts.
- Under the law, written consent couldn't be combined with an employment contract or "any other consent or permission-seeking instrument or function."