The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are tapping into state driver’s license databases to conduct facial-recognition searches without the consent of the hundreds of millions of Americans whose information is at risk, The Washington Post reports. FBI officials have made hundreds of thousands of facial-recognition searches in various government databases since 2011, oftentimes scanning through Department of Motor Vehicles databases. Unlike information taken from suspected criminals, which has long been available to officials, DMV data includes many state residents who have no criminal charges and have not signed off on sharing their information. Law enforcement accessing state databases is “often done in the shadows with no consent,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) told the Post.
In many states, including New York and Washington, D.C., undocumented immigrants can either obtain a full driver’s license or a limited permit. Utah, Vermont, and Washington state also allow undocumented immigrants to obtain full or restricted licenses, and ICE agents are confirmed to have already run searches through those DMV databases, thus making them vulnerable to any scrutiny. Lawmakers in Florida and Texas have already introduced legislation to extend driving privileges, and Florida and New York are negotiating over FBI access to the driver databases.