U.S. Customs and Border Patrol prepares for a raid.

Use of Government Databases Growing Nationwide in AI Agency Use

Catie Edmondson of the New York Times wrote a scathing article about a backdoor spying operation taking place in three states involving facial recognition AI algorithms to scan every drivers license photo from the state’s motor vehicle divisions. The documents, obtained through public records requests by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and first reported on by  The Washington Post, mark the first known instance of ICE using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens.

Edmondson goes on to say:

“In at least three states that offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, ICE officials have requested to comb through state repositories of license photos, according to newly released documents. At least two of those states, Utah and Vermont, complied, searching their photos for matches, those records show.”

In Washington state, agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to do a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, though it was unclear whether the state carried out the searches. In Vermont, agents only had to file a paper request that was later approved by Department of Motor Vehicles employees.

Privacy experts like Harrison Rudolph, an associate at the center, which released the documents to The New York Times said:

“This is a scandal,” Mr. Rudolph said. “States have never passed laws authorizing ICE to dive into driver’s license databases using facial recognition to look for folks.”

This isn’t a new method or tool of law enforcement. The FBI has been doing it for nearly a decade, according to a Government Accountability Office report. The bureau has run over 390,000 searches through databases that collectively hold over 640 million photos, F.B.I. officials said.

As recently reported in Seeflection.com, San Francisco and Sommerville, a Boston suburb have both banned facial recognition use by their law enforcement agencies.

Just this week, Chicago released more news about ICE and facial recognition. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday that her city has permanently banned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from accessing the Chicago Police Department’s databases ahead of looming ICE raids to detain undocumented immigrants. Chicago police “will not team up with ICE to detain any resident,” the mayor said after meeting with business leaders and immigration rights advocates at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

“They’re not going to be facilitating or otherwise providing any assistance in any raids―whether it’s traffic stops [or] additional support. …We have also cut off ICE from any access from any CPD databases and that will remain permanent.”

Those who have been watching for further signs of Big Brother from George Orwell’s “1984” are finding them daily.

read more at nytimes.com