When biometric technology became ubiquitous in our lives, a few privacy advocates argued that it should be limited.
Now, the Obama administration is urging the tech companies to reconsider.
According to a letter from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to IBM and Intel, biometric tech companies must stop using fingerprint scanners as a way to identify people when they leave the home.
This would help prevent “inappropriate biometric identifiers” from being linked to criminal activity.
The letter states that the government does not “believe that fingerprint scanning is currently appropriate as a method of identifying individuals, or that fingerprint recognition technology is currently used in an efficient and effective manner.”
But the letter also asks the companies to review the use of fingerprint technology in ways that “do not adversely affect privacy or other rights of individuals.”
It’s not clear if the letter is a direct response to a recent ACLU lawsuit in California over the use and tracking of biometric information by police and other agencies.
In January, a federal judge ruled that the California Privacy Act violates the First Amendment, which protects the right to privacy, by prohibiting government agencies from using biometric data for law enforcement purposes.
The FBI is expected to unveil a new biometric system next week, and the ACLU says it is considering legal action against the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for violating the Privacy Act.