In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat. (stock graphic)
WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae D. Johnson urging the agency to end its use of invasive technologies, purchases of private commercial data and invasive surveillance tactics that threaten the privacy rights of individuals all across the United States.
The letter points to a recent report by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology, which revealed that ICE has used facial recognition technology on the driver’s license photographs of almost one-third (32%) of all U.S. adults, and has access to the driver’s license data of almost three-fourths (74%) of them — in most cases without obtaining a search warrant.
“According to a recent report, ICE has used facial recognition and other technologies, and purchased information from data brokers, to construct a ‘dragnet surveillance system’ that helps ICE carry out deportation proceedings. Much of this effort, which has enabled ICE to obtain detailed information about the vast majority of people living in the United States, has been shrouded in secrecy,” the Senators wrote.
“This surveillance network has exploited privacy-protection gaps and has enormous civil rights implications,” the Senators continued. “ICE should immediately shut down its Orwellian data-gathering efforts that indiscriminately collect far too much data on far too many individuals.”
In their letter, Senators Markey and Wyden requested that ICE respond in writing to the following questions by October 3, 2022:
- How does ICE access driver’s license images and data? Please identify the states whose images and data ICE can access and how ICE accesses the images and data, and describe the data that is available.
- Please identify any instances in which ICE obtained driver’s license images or other data on the residents of a state after the state attempted to prevent ICE from obtaining those images or data; how ICE eventually accessed the images or data; and who facilitated that access.
- When using facial recognition technologies on drivers’ license image databases, with what images does ICE compare the license images? Please describe how ICE obtains those images.
- Please describe how ICE uses the results of facial recognition analysis in immigration proceedings.
- Beyond driver’s license image databases, how else does ICE employ facial recognition technologies?
- Will ICE commit to ending the use of facial recognition technologies on driver’s license images databases and otherwise? If not, why not?
- Please identify any data brokers with whom ICE currently contracts, the terms of those agreements, the types of information ICE accesses through them and the conditions under which this data is accessed, and the number of individuals whose personal information ICE has obtained.
- Please describe how ICE uses data it obtains from data brokers in immigration investigations and proceedings.
- Will ICE commit to not purchasing data from data brokers and not otherwise using data that it has not obtained through a search warrant? If not, why not?
- Please describe how ICE obtains and uses cell phone location data, including how it uses cell phone location tracking data in immigration investigations and proceedings.
- Will ICE commit to not purchasing cell phone location data from data brokers? If not, why not?
- Has ICE ever used data it has obtained to assist another federal or state agency or department with a non-immigrant enforcement investigation or proceeding? If yes, please describe how. If not, how would ICE handle this type of request?
- Please describe how ICE uses data gathered about individuals in Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs for any reason other than assuring that such individuals do not abscond.
Read the full text of the letter HERE.
In June 2021, Senators Markey, Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) re-introduced their Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act.
The legislation would prohibit use of biometric technology by federal agencies and condition federal grant funding to state and local entities on moratoria on the use of biometric technology.