Facial Recognition Moratorium
As an American, our most fundamental right is the right to privacy. Facial Recognition technology will have substantial implications for our right to live a private life. As companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies rush ahead with developing this technology, we have no rules or standards governing its use and no safeguards to correct its failures.
The CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Sundar Pichai, recently supported an EU moratorium on facial recognition technology because of the vast possibilities for its misuse. In a recent test using Amazon’s facial recognition technology, nine members of the Denver City Council were falsely identified as sex offenders. Facial recognition technology could have even greater impacts for people of color. One study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that many facial recognition apps were 10 to 100 times more likely to inaccurately identify people of color, especially Black/African American people.
We simply do not have adequate and effective facial recognition regulations. That is why I have introduced HB 2856, which will place a three-year moratorium on its use by both government agencies and private companies in Washington State.
We need to press pause, convene stakeholders, and make sure that all consumers are protected from corporate and government surveillance of their faces. When our privacy is at stake, we need to be sure we get it right.
Watch my testimony on the bill here:
Alleviating Family Poverty
The financial crisis of 2008 led Washington to place much tighter restrictions on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Last week I introduced House Bill 2441 to ease the restrictions on access to this vital cash benefit for our neediest families and remove a policy that punished children when their parents fell out of compliance.
As a cash benefit, TANF already had strict restrictions on its use including a five-year lifetime limit on receiving benefits and strict job training requirements. However, prior to 2008 families could receive extensions to the five-year time limit if they could show a hardship. After 2008 the ability to gain an extension was severely limited. Families were given a shorter grace period for falling out of compliance, orientation requirements were increased, and the Legislature made it possible to permanently disqualify a family. These changes significantly reduced the number of TANF recipients. The impact fell the hardest on African American, Indigenous, and Hispanic families who were disproportionately disqualified from the program.
These new restrictions severely impacted TANF’s stated goal of providing families with a path to self-sufficiency. The result is that far fewer families today are getting the help they desperately need. According to Crosscut, in 2006, 62% of families below the poverty line were receiving assistance, today only 29% of those families are.
The bill I introduced, HB 2441, allows for more hardship exemptions to the five-year limit and ensures that if an adult is sanctioned for non-compliance, the children in the family will not lose their assistance. Currently, if a parent is out of compliance with their “Individual Responsibility Plan” for two months the entire family will lose assistance. HB 2441 gives parents a four-month grace period to come into compliance with their IRP and reduces a family’s grant by 40% after that. The children’s portion of the TANF grant cannot be terminated because of the parent’s inability to comply.
Watch testimony from families, pediatricians, and advocates on the need for this legislation: