Senator comments on CBP breach
12 June 2019 17:07 GMT

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Security Subcommittee of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has expressed concern after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s confirmed that a recent data breach exposed images of travelers and vehicles.

“This data breach raises serious concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to effectively safeguard the sensitive information it is collecting,” said Senator Markey. “It only underscores the urgent need for the Department of Homeland Security to pause its deployment of facial recognition technology until it has instituted enforceable rules prioritizing cybersecurity and protecting travelers’ privacy. Malicious actors’ thirst for information about U.S. identities is unquenchable, and DHS must keep pace with emerging threats. It should starts with formalizing guidelines for exactly who has access to the data DHS collects, how long this data will be maintained, how that information will be safeguarded, and how we can say no to this collection in the first place.”   

In December 2017 and again in May 2018, Senators Markey and Mike Lee (R-Utah) previously raised questions regarding the use of biometric facial recognition software, calling for formal rulemaking from the Department of Homeland Security.

.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Monday that photos of travelers had been compromised as part of a “malicious cyberattack,” raising concerns over how federal officials’ expanding surveillance efforts could imperil Americans’ privacy.

Customs officials said in a statement Monday that the images, which included photos of people’s faces and license plates, had been compromised as part of an attack on a federal subcontractor.

CBP makes extensive use of cameras and video recordings at airports and land border crossings, where images of vehicles are captured. Those images are used as part of a growing agency facial-recognition program designed to track the identity of people entering and exiting the U.S.