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Pramila Jayapal introduces legislation to ban facial recognition tech by govt

Led by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a group of US lawmakers has introduced a bicameral legislation to stop government use of biometric technology, including facial recognition tools, which they said violates the privacy of citizens and “deepens racial bias” in policing.

The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, introduced on Tuesday, responds to reports that hundreds of local, state and federal entities, including law enforcement agencies, have used unregulated facial recognition technologies and research showing that roughly half of US adults are already in facial recognition databases.

While Jayapal along with Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives, Senators Edward J Markey, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden introduced it in the Senate.

The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act would place a prohibition on the use of facial recognition technology by federal entities, which can only be lifted with an act of Congress. It also prohibits use of other biometric technologies, including voice recognition, gate recognition and recognition of other immutable physical characteristics by federal entities, which can only be lifted with an act of Congress.

The Act imposes conditions on federal grant funding to state and local entities, including law enforcement, on those entities enacting their own moratoria on the use of facial recognition and biometric technology and prohibit the use of federal dollars for biometric surveillance systems. It prohibits the use of information collected via biometric technology in violation of the Act in any judicial proceedings.

Facial recognition technology is not only invasive, inaccurate and unregulated, but it has also been unapologetically weaponized by law enforcement against Black people across this country. That’s why I have long called on companies like Amazon to stop selling this technology, and it’s why we need to immediately take additional steps to rein in its use, Jayapal said.

This legislation will not only protect civil liberties but aggressively fight back against racial injustice by stopping federal entities from using facial recognition and biometric surveillance tools while stripping support for state and local law enforcement departments that continue its use, she added.

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Legislation reintroduced to attract foreign doctors to US

To address shortage of doctors in the US, a bi-partisan group of influential senators have announced the reintroduction of a legislation to attract foreign doctors to serve primarily in rural areas of the country.

The move is likely to benefit thousands of Indian doctors who are already in the US and those aspiring to come to the country.

The reintroduction of the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act would allow international physicians to remain in the US upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in areas experiencing doctor shortages.

Reintroduced by Senator Jacky Rosen, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), alongside senators Amy Klobuchar, Susan Collins, and Joni Ernst, the legislation would also help increase the number of doctors available to work in under-served areas, a media release said on Monday.

Senators Angus King, John Thune, Jeff Merkley, Shelley Moore Capito, Chris Coons, and Roy Blunt are co-sponsors of this legislation. Companion legislation in the House of Representatives was reintroduced by Representative Brad Schneider.

Currently, doctors from other countries working in America on J-1 visas are required to return to their home country for two years after their residency has ended before they are allowed to apply for another visa or green card.

The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act allows international doctors to stay in the US without having to return to their home country on the condition that they agree to practice in a medically under-served community for three years.

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