ICE driver license snooping: Arkansas says it doesn't participate

According to a new report in The Washington Post, FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been using facial recognition technology to search states' driver's license photo databases without motorists' knowledge.

Will Lambek, an organizer with Migrant Justice, an organization that advocates for immigrant farmworkers, called the DMV's use of the facial recognition a "concerning practice". I'll be joining with legislative colleagues to get answers about how this happened.

Utah officials are disputing some details from reports that the state allows federal agencies to scour photos and information from its driver's license database.

The FBI and American Immigration and Customs officials are using facial recognition software to scan states' driving licence photograph databases to look for suspects and possible witnesses.

ICE is not the only federal agency to be scrutinized for applying face recognition software to state driver records.

SHAHANI: So what was uncovered is that ICE agents, while looking for undocumented people, ended up having extraordinary access to the state records of American citizens.

"No one registers for a driver license or state identification card with the belief that this information could be used against them". Generally speaking, state bureaucrats have been happy to cooperate.

"States have tried to improve people's lives and people's ability in this country to move around by giving them the ability to drive", she said.

Documents obtained through a USA government watchdog revealed almost 400,000 facial recognition searches, utilizing image databases from agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, have been logged without civilian or congressional consent.

The Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Elijah Cummings, glossed over the implications of facial recognition scanning, saying merely, "Law enforcement's access of state databases is often done in the shadows with no consent".

For years the Utah Legislature has made it clear that federal access to driver's license records is only permitted on a limited basis, and allowing wide access without legislative approval is a "dangerous misstep". "With concern over the use of this technology striking chords with both House Democrats and Republicans, I think it's safe to assume you'll be seeing action on the issue in the near future".

In Washington, officials authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all license applicants' photos, though it is unclear whether the state executed those searches, the Post reported.

"The FBI had not accessed accuracy when users requested a list of two to 29 matches", the report stated. He noted Utah recently passed the first-ever digital privacy law that demands police seek a warrant when they want to access instant messages, emails, or other cloud-based communications. But after decades of that practice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started to institute a "next generation" system in 2010 that could include biometric data such as face recognition, the GAO said.

Rules need to be set on the general use of facial recognition, maintained Jake Laperruque, senior counsel for The Constitution Project at the on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group in Washington, D.C. The software's precision is highly dependent on a number of factors, including the lighting of a subject's face and the quality of the image, and research has shown that the technology performs less accurately on people with darker skin.

  • Leroy Wright


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