Washington drivers licenses used for facial recognition by ICE and FBI

Facial recognition searches of some Washington Driver's licenses by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI have sparked a controversy among immigration activists and privacy groups. Click the image above to listen to some of the KOMO News coverage of the story.{ } (file graphic: KOMO News)

BOSTON (AP) — Civil rights activists complained Monday of the potential for widespread abuse following confirmation that at least three states have scanned millions of driver's license photos on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement without the drivers' knowledge or consent.

Public records obtained by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology provided the first proof that ICE had sought such scans, which were conducted in Utah, Vermont and Washington.

All three states — which offer driving privileges to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally — agreed to the ICE requests, according to documents shared with The Associated Press on Monday and first reported by The Washington Post.

"States asked undocumented people to come out of the shadows to get licenses. Then ICE turns around and uses that to find them," Alvaro Bedoya, the center's director, said Monday.

One possible way to avoid this privacy controversy is to refrain from granting driver's licenses or state ID to illegal aliens.

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