ICE, FBI Illegally Scans Driver’s Licenses For Facial Recognition

FBI
An FBI seal on a building wall. (Photo: Flickr/J)

A shocking report has once again put two government agencies in a negative light. According to a recent Washington Post report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are conducting unauthorized facial recognition scans of drivers licenses. What is even more shocking is the allegation that these scans were done without the authorization or consent.

The Washington Post report is based on documents gathered by Georgetown Law researchers. The researchers conducted this study and gathered documents for five years. It is important to note here that the Government Accountability Office released a report in June claiming that the FBI recorded and kept the logs of more than 390,000 facial recognition searches of local and federal databases since 2011. This includes a scan of the database of a state's Department of Motor Vehicles, the government agency tasked of processing drivers licenses.

According to the Washington Post report, neither the United States Congress nor any state legislative body approved this data gathering procedure of both FBI and ICE. The report shed light on this unauthorized and extremely dangerous practice in order to obtain information.

In a statement, Fight for the Future's Deputy Director Evan Greer said, "This surveillance technology poses such a profound threat to the future of human society and basic liberty that its dangers far outweigh any potential benefits. We don't need to regulate it, we need to ban it entirely."

Fight for the Future is a digital rights group that pushes for stricter laws towards facial recognition and related technologies. The group's efforts have paid off in the past couple of months.

Since May, a number of cities have passed local ordinances that ban such technique of data gathering. Cities like Massachusetts, San Francisco, and Somerville have all agreed to impose rules on this practice. These cities agree that the use of facial recognition software is a huge government overreach and a clear violation of public trust. This technique of information gathering is a hotly debated issue on both the upper and lower houses of the United States.

The issue of gathering information by means of unauthorized facial recognition technologies have been criticized by legislators on both sides of the aisle. Both Republican and Democratic politicians have called for investigations over allegation of these perceived wrongdoings. Additionally, they have also called for stricter laws and regulations that should govern this sensitive piece of technology.

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