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FBI and ICE found exploiting DMV driver database for facial recognition scans

FBI and ICE found exploiting DMV driver database for facial recognition scans
  • The documents and emails from the FBI and ICE revealed that they used driver license photos from the DMV database for facial recognition searches.
  • The FBI conducts 4,000 facial recognition searches per month and the DMV database is used to identify suspects in cases of ‘low-level’ crimes.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are exploiting the state DMV driver database for facial recognition searches without the consent of drivers.

The big picture

Researchers from Georgetown Law shared the five years’ worth of documents and emails from the FBI and ICE with the Washington Post. The documents and emails from the FBI and ICE revealed that they used driver license photos from the DMV database for facial recognition searches.

It is to be noted that no state or Congress decision has authorized the creation of a facial recognition system based on information harvested from the driver license database.

“This is a clear violation of consumer privacy when government agencies are allowed to access personal data from driver’s licenses without legal consent,” said Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout, SCMagazine reported.

Facial recognition data requests

The FBI conducts 4,000 facial recognition searches per month and the DMV database is used to identify suspects in cases of ‘low-level’ crimes.

According to the Washington Post, a request to access a DMV database can be as informal as sending an email to a DMV contact. Almost 21 states permit the FBI to scan driver license photos. However, in the Washington state, law enforcement agencies require a court order for submitting facial recognition data requests.

The response

The FBI pointed towards the comments made by Deputy Assistant Director Kimberly Del Greco last month.

“Facial recognition technology is necessary to preserve our nation's freedoms, ensure our liberties are protected, and preserve our security,” said Kimberly Del Greco, ZDNet reported.

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