ICE has been mining state driver's license databases using controversial facial recognition technology

CBP agents try out facial recognition at Miami's airport
(Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has turned states' driver's license databases "into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans' photos without their knowledge or consent," The Washington Post reports, citing new documents unearthed by Georgetown Law researchers using public-records requests. The federal use of DMV photos as part of "the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure" violates some state and local laws, likely impinges on privacy rights, and has raised rare bipartisan hackles.

"This is a scandal," Harrison Rudolph, an associate at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, tells The New York Times. "States have never passed laws authorizing ICE to dive into driver's license databases using facial recognition to look for folks," and they've "never told undocumented people that when they apply for a driver's license they are also turning over their face to ICE. That is a huge bait and switch." The FBI has also conducted more than 390,000 searches through DMV and visa application photos over the past decade, a recent Government Accountability Office report found.

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