Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Federal Agencies Use DMV Photos for Facial Recognition

FBI, ICE use driver license photos without owners’ knowledge or consent State driver’s license databases prove valuable for FBI, ICE for facial-recognition searches: report
Patty Aguilar | 10 July, 2019, 11:31

Jake Elovirta, director of the department's enforcement and safety division, at the Statehouse in 2017. More than a dozen states encourage immigrants living in the US illegally to get driver's licenses, said Alvaro Bedoya, founding director of the Center on Privacy and Technology. Only appropriate, required DFA staff have access to the photos in the database.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents mine millions of driver's license photos for possible facial recognition matches - and some of those efforts target undocumented immigrants who have legally obtained driver's licenses, according to researchers at Georgetown University Law Center, which obtained documents related to the searches.

ICE refused The Hill's request for comment on this report. Washington may have conducted searches after receiving federal subpoenas, but it's unknown if they complied. Now researchers have found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have been running databases filled with driver's license photos through facial recognition software, looking for immigrants of interest.

"That's something Vermont needs to do everything it can to resist".

As Congress weighs legislation to regulate facial recognition, some cities have started to ban law enforcement and public agencies from using the software.

When asked whether ICE could use the database to search for suspected undocumented immigrants, Cote said "there has to be a criminal case open and an investigation per individual for us to assist". A technologist told Sputnik it highlights why "technology and policing should be completely separate". "This is an established procedure that is consistent with other law enforcement agencies".

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have mined state driver's license databases using facial recognition technology, analyzing millions of motorists' photos without their knowledge.

He does, however, realize that this report may discourage many undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses.

Now, it is important to point out facial recognition has done plenty of good in this world.

"There need to be some real processes in place to ensure that people's privacy that their personal information is protected", Rep. King told FOX 13.

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While facial recognition technology can be effective, it's far from ideal. States that provide licenses to undocumented people have done so on the premise that it's in the public interest to have all drivers on the books, but ICE's actions could scare these populations away from their local DMV.

The Vermont DMV commissioner at the time of the searches was Robert Ide, a holdover from the administration of former Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican.

In response to an NPR request for comment, ICE officials sent a statement saying the agency "will not comment on investigative techniques, tactics or tools".

Will Lambek, left, and Enrique Balcazar, both of Migrant Justice, speak at a rally in November 2018.

CORNISH: I understand that in the past, ICE has gone to DMV offices and just asked for records on immigrants.

"People think this is something coming way off in the future, but these [facial-recognition] searches are happening very frequently today", Laperruque said. But the organization is suing the Vermont DMV and ICE for targeting its leaders and members in retaliation for their activism.

DMV officials declined to discuss the lawsuit.

The latest exposure of widespread use of facial recognition software by federal police agencies is further evidence that the state apparatus is systematically violating basic democratic rights with high-tech surveillance tools. If Immigration and Customs Enforcement goes through a database, and they locate someone, and they find out they're living in upstate NY or wherever, and they are able to identify them as someone who's in the USA illegally and needs to be deported, what's wrong with that?

Fox News Flash top headlines for July 8 are here.

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