Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, “is already working as an internal surveillance agency,” according to a new report from the Georgetown Law Center for Privacy and Technology, based on a two-year investigation.
IN report describes in detail how, since the agency was established in law after 9/11, ICE has gone beyond collaborating primarily with other law enforcement agencies to create an infrastructure that allows it to extract detailed information on both Americans, immigrants and non-immigrants, according to data from private data brokers and state and local authorities.
The ICE Surveillance Network also uses facial recognition, especially scanning driver’s license photos to implement immigration, according to the report, which includes hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests and reviews of the agency’s contracts and contracts.
Between 2008 and 2021, ICE spent about $ 96 million on biometrics, a category that also includes fingerprints and DNA testing, according to the report.
Currently, “there are few provisions restricting the use of face recognition by law enforcement agencies in general and almost no provisions relating to the use of ICE technology,” the report said.
ICE did not respond to a request for comment on the FCW report.
The use of facial recognition dates back to a 2008 contract between the agency and biometric company L-1 Identity Solutions, which gave ICE access to the Rhode Island’s facial recognition database, according to a report detailing the use of facial by ICE searches to recognize DMV databases.
ICE uses face recognition technology to scan driver’s license photos of one in three adults in the United States, and since 2015, the agency has requested a face scan to identify DMV databases in at least 14 states, according to report.
“The use of face recognition on DMV data is particularly impressive because people do not expect their images and personal data to be shared with other agencies. This is a betrayal of the trust that people place in their government agencies and must stop, “said Alison MacDonald, a researcher at the center and one of the authors of the report, in a statement to the FCW.
“This does not mean that other, less covert uses of face recognition are a problem. There is ample evidence that face recognition is unreliable and biased and is not a technology to be used by police or immigration authorities,” he said. she.
The report urges ICE to stop using facial recognition to implement immigration, highlighting concerns about race and gender bias in algorithms, the potential for misidentification and wrongful arrests, and concerns about privacy and due process.
From May 2020, ICE’s policy prohibits the use of face recognition technology in enforcement and removal operations, the report said, but not in internal security investigations.
ICE is not the only agency to use face recognition technology.
And in 2021 report The Government Accountability Office surveyed 24 agencies to find that most use technology for domestic law enforcement, cybersecurity or physical security. The Common Services Administration, for example, is currently considering using face recognition for Login.gov.
The agency’s monitoring work has been largely largely without judicial, legislative or public oversight, the report said. Most congressional leaders were unaware of ICE’s use of DMV’s face recognition scans until media reports in 2019 – more than a decade after the first known agreement in 2008, the report said.
Another major source of information about the agency, described in detail in this investigation, is data and algorithmic tools.
ICE uses databases from private data brokers and state and local governments – often data provided to obtain basic services, the report said, citing records from the Ministry of Motor Vehicles, as well as information on utilities, employment records and housing files.
In 16 states and the District of Columbia, for example, undocumented people can obtain driver’s licenses. In six of these states, ICE uses facial recognition to scan photos of a driver’s license; at five, can look for information on a driver’s license to use to enforce civil immigration without a warrant.
The report also estimates that ICE is likely to obtain address information for 74% of adults in the United States using utility records created when using gas, electricity, telephone or the Internet in a new home – information that can help tracking people for deportation, report states.
Sharing data provided for basic services has already provided evidence of a “chilling effect” or deterring immigrants from interacting with government systems and enrolling in critical services, the report said.
The report includes recommendations calling on Congress to reform immigration laws, adopt new data protections, update laws that restrict the disclosure of information provided by Americans to the DMV, and exercise greater oversight over the ICE, including the use of biometric data from the agency.
It also includes recommendations to state legislators on the use of water, gas, electricity, telephone and internet records for immigration enforcement and ICE access to DMV data.