Leaders Concerned Over Report Of ICE Accessing Drivers License Info With Face Scan Software
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Claims that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, had wide access to Utah drivers license photos through facial recognition software are drawing major concerns among state leaders on both sides of the aisle.
“I will say that both the Governor and I are very concerned about what we read,” Lt. Governor Spencer Cox said to reporters Monday. “We’re in the process of investigating what kind of accesses they’ve had and how frequent and how broad that access is.”
The reports surfaced out of a story from the Washington Post over the weekend.
“The Driver License Division (DLD) does not disseminate this information.” –@UtahDPS In short, #Utah doesn’t allow random searching of license photos and #SLCPD doesn’t ask status in any case. @ConsulMexSal https://t.co/JrYnx8KSnh
— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) July 9, 2019
Public records requests, filed by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology, found requests made by ICE in Utah and Vermont. However, Cox said that, according to Utah’s Department of Public Safety, the claims are not true.
“The state of Utah has not given carte blanche to access the drivers licenses of the citizens here,” Cox said. “What we do know is that they’re only accessed when there is a criminal investigation, and when a name and person have already been named, and they’re looking for more information on that specific person.”
According to DPS, ICE filed 49 requests tied to specific individuals within a two-year period. Assistant Minority Whip, Rep. Angela Romero, D-District 26, said it’s important to find out what kind of access ICE actually had.
“This is something that we take seriously, and hopefully we’ll get some answers,” Romero said. “This should be a concern for everybody that lives in the state of Utah, knowing that the FBI and ICE have access our drivers license, especially when a crime hasn’t been committed.”
On top of that, Romero said the claims draw concerns for people who might be seeking to live in the United States legally.
“For me it also causes a concern of fear for people who are aspiring to be citizens, who might have a drivers privilege card,” Romero said. “How many of those people are going to renew their drivers privilege card? How many people will even apply?”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah also issued a statement, regarding the claims outlined in the Washington Post article.
“Without knowledge or consent, everyone with a Utah driver’s license or driving privilege card may have had their photo analyzed thousands of times by facial recognition software that is known to be inaccurate,” the statement from Legislative & Policy Counsel Marina Lowe read. “These reports confirm that a massive, hidden surveillance infrastructure isn’t just science fiction, it’s already happening.”
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