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Testimony on Prohibiting Biometric Surveillance

Testimony Before the New York City Council Committee on Technology in Support of Intros. 217 and 425

Facial recognition and other biometric surveillance tools enable and amplify the invasive tracking of who we are, where we go, and who we meet. They are also highly flawed and racially biased. The widespread use of these technologies presents a clear danger to all New Yorkers’ civil liberties and threatens to erode our fundamental rights to privacy, protest, and equal treatment under the law.

The New York City Council must ensure New Yorkers are not surveilled, targeted, discriminated against, and criminalized on the basis of invasive, flawed, and biased technology. To this end, we call for prohibitions on biometric surveillance in areas of severe power imbalance, including its use by law enforcement or other government agencies, in housing, and in other areas where our fundamental rights are at stake or where informed consent cannot be given. The NYCLU supports the two bills before the Committees, Introduction 217-2024, which would ban biometric surveillance in places of public accommodation and set clear rules for the collection of biometric data, and Introduction 425-2024, which would ban the use of biometric surveillance in residential buildings.

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