Is ICE using driver’s license photos to find undocumented immigrants?

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Privacy advocates are raising red flags about the use of facial recognition software by federal law enforcement agencies.

Documents obtained by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology show that three states that allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses are also allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to search driver’s license photo databases using facial recognition technology.

“The fact that, in at least three states, undocumented people came out of the shadows to get these licenses — only to have ICE take advantage of that to track them down — is in our eyes a deep betrayal, “ said Alvaro Bedoya, the founder and director for the center at Georgetown.

Researchers have uncovered that ICE is accessing facial recognition databases, which include driver’s license photos in more than a dozen states. From 2015 to 2017, documents show that Vermont, Washington and Utah — states that allow allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses — also allowed ICE to search their driver’s license databases.

Georgetown researchers have been sounding the alarm about unregulated police use of facial recognition since 2016.

In a report titled, “The Perpetual Line-Up,” researchers pointed out that the FBI utilizing state’s driver’s license photo databases is highly problematic because the network includes mostly law-abiding Americans.

Purpose For Investigators Using Facial Recognition 

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