The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking information from both the public and private sector on how biometric data is being used for identification purposes, according to a request for information (RFI) OSTP recently posted on the Federal register.

The White House is looking for any past deployments, trials, proposals, or pilots, as well as any current uses of biometric tech for “identity verification, identification of individuals, and inference of attributes including individual mental and emotional states,” according to the RFI.

“To date, attention and legislation around AI-enabled biometric technologies has largely focused on the specific case of facial recognition technology used to identify individuals in law enforcement and in public and private settings,” the RFI states. “However, there are a growing number of domains that are beginning to make use of biometric information for identification or inference of emotion, disposition, character, or intent.”

Among the burgeoning uses the White House is looking into are things like using facial recognition to control initial or continued access to things like schools, housing, jobs, and other resources; inference of intent in public places; facial or voice recognition in education, employment, and advertising; the use of gait recognition in healthcare; and keystroke analysis to determine cognitive analysis or mood.

The RFI looks to understand the potential concerns around the use of biometric data for identification purposes, while also acknowledging some of the benefits of using such technologies.

“Many concerns have been raised about the use of biometric technology, ranging from questions about the validity of the underlying science; differential effectiveness, outcomes, and harms for different demographic groups; and the role of biometric systems in increasing the use of surveillance technologies and broadening the scope of surveillance practices,” the RFI says.

“Nonetheless, biometric technologies are often presented as a cheaper and more reliable form of identification, and as effective aids in clinical settings for diagnosis and therapeutic use, in addition to their use in public safety such as for finding missing persons and combating child trafficking,” the RFI continues.

OSTP is providing ample time for comments, with any public comments due January 15, 2022.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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