Friday, May 7, 2021

Biden administration withdraws biometrics regulation from consideration

The Biden administration will withdraw from consideration a controversial regulation proposed by the Trump administration that collected extensive biometric data from immigrants, including their DNA, voice prints, and eye scans. This data could be collected from immigrants seeking green cards, visas, or other immigration benefits on multiple occassions until they became a U.S. citizen.

While the rule had been published in the federal register for public comment, it had not yet gone into effect. The status quo is that the immigration agency that grants these benefits requires fingerprints, a signature, and a picture from foreign national adults and those over 14. The proposed regulation would have been broader in scope and application. 

Drexel University Professor Anil Kalhan has written about the use of biometrics in immigration surveillance here and here. Immigration and privacy scholars and advocates have objected to these techniques due to privacy concerns.


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