Markey: Breach underscores need for Homeland Security face recognition rules (+video)    

ALEX BRANDON/AP file photo/U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., says the Department of Homeland Security should develop formal guidelines for who can access the data it collects, how long data will be stored, how it will be protected and "how we can say no to this collection in the first place."

BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is calling for the federal government to formalize rules around facial recognition technology, after a data breach at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection exposed images of travelers and vehicles.

Markey, in a statement, said the breach "raises serious concerns about the Department of Homeland Security's ability to effectively safeguard the sensitive information it is collecting."

"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," he said. "Malicious actors' thirst for information about U.S. identities is unquenchable, and DHS must keep pace with emerging threats."

He said the department should develop formal guidelines for who can access the data it collects, how long data will be stored, how it will be protected and "how we can say no to this collection in the first place."

Asked Monday afternoon about facial recognition, Gov. Charlie Baker reiterated that the technology is not used in the State House and said regulation of it is handled largely at the federal level.

"Whether or not it should be regulated at the state level is something we've had conversations about, but it's not to the point where we'd be ready to file legislation," Baker said.

Bills sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. David Rogers, and backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, would impose a moratorium on government use of face recognition and other biometric surveillance within the state.

Rogers' bill (H 1538) is before the Judiciary Committee and Creem's (S 1385) is before the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.