NYC Dem Proposes Fingerprint, Eye Scan To Buy Booze, Cigarettes

Democrats hope the third time is a charm to pass a state law using biometrics — like a fingerprint — for proof to buy cigarettes or alcohol.

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, D-Brooklyn, recently introduced A.10871 to amend the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and Public Health Law to authorize use of “biometric identify verification devices.” Devices could include fingerprints, iris images, facial images, according to the text of the legislation,

“Biometric age verification will help consumers and businesses by allowing people to enter their favorite establishments, or make alcohol or tobacco purchases quickly and without having to present photo identification, or even give their names and dates of birth,” Walker wrote in her legislative justification. “The process and technology authorized by this legislation will simply indicate to an establishment whether the customer is of sufficient age to enter the establishment or make the desired purchase. Biometric age verification technology is incredibly easy to use and highly accurate. The system identifies individuals and verifies their age using biometric information that is extremely difficult to alter or “fake,” such as a fingerprint.

In fact, the technology, which is currently in use by the Transportation Security Administration, managed a 100% accurate verification rate.”

The legislation has never made it out of committee in prior years.

Its introduction this year conflicts with legislation the state Legislature passed less than two weeks ago banning the use of biometric identification technologies in schools until 2022 and roughly a month after the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state Education Department for allowing facial recognition technology to be used in Lockport City Schools last year. The ban on facial recognition software has not yet been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Rep. Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, was among the 24 Assembly members to vote against the facial recognition legislation, A.6787D, making the case on the Assembly floor during a debate with Assembly member Monica Wallace, D-Erie County, that the matter is one for local school districts and voters to decide.


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