EFF speaks out against border surveillance bill
27 September 2017 17:13 GMT

US privacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has spoken out over a new bill it says would dramatically expand biometric and other surveillance of US citizens and immigrants alike at and near the US border.

Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) introduced S. 1757, styled the Building America’s Trust Act, in August.

In an open letter, the EFF states that the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect biometric information from all people who exit the U.S., including U.S. and foreign citizens.

"This would entrench and expand DHS’s existing program of facial recognition of all international travelers who take certain outgoing flights from U.S. airports. EFF opposes such biometric border screening, given the sensitivity of biometric information, the threat it will be stolen or misused, and the hazard of mission creep."

The EFF also notes aspects on collection of Immigrants’ DNA. The bill would require DHS to collect DNA and other biometric information from “any individual filing an application, petition, or other request for immigration benefit or status.”

"EFF has long opposed dragnet biometric surveillance of immigrants. DNA surveillance raises special concerns, because DNA can expose sensitive information about familial history and health issues."

According to the EFF, the bill would require DHS to share its biometric information about immigrants with the FBI, the Defense Department, and the State Department. It also would require DHS to store its voiceprints and iris scans of immigrants in a manner compatible with state and local law enforcement database.

"EFF opposes this dissemination of immigrants’ biometrics. The greater the distribution, the greater the risks of theft, employee misuse, and mission creep."

At time of press, no government authority had responded to the EFF statement.