Vermont DMV Has Been Performing Illegal Biometric Searches for Police: ACLU

Vermont’s DMV has been using facial recognition technology to search through its database of driver license holders at the behest of police authorities at all levels of government, says the ACLU. The civil liberties organization says it discovered the practice through internal DMV documents it was able to obtain, and is now calling for its immediate end.Vermont DMV Has Been Performing Illegal Biometric Searches for Police: ACLU

Such practices had come to light last summer when the Government Accountability Office issued a report revealing the existence of FACE, a secret program run by the FBI that scanned images of civilian databases for criminal investigations. Vermont was revealed to be one of several states cooperating with the FBI. But the ACLU now says that the Vermont DMV has also collaborated with “ICE, the U.S. State Department, and state and local police departments from around the country,” according to a statement from the organization.

The ACLU adds that some of the biometric searches are based on “minor offenses such as trespassing or disorderly conduct, while others fail to reference any criminal conduct.” The DMV has been asked to perform searches over a hundred times since the program was implemented in 2012, and has never declined to do so.

The ACLU argues that this practice violates a 2004 state law barring the DMV from using “any procedures or processes for identifying applications… that involve the use of biometric identifiers,” a law that appears to preclude even the innocuous use of facial recognition systems to fight fraud and otherwise ensure the fast identification of individuals.

May 25, 2017 – by Alex Perala