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Big Brother

This State Uses Biometric Identifiers to Illegally Search People’s Data

Written by Joe Scudder

State law bans the use of biometric markers but the state agency has done it anyway.

By law, the Vermont DMV is restricted from using biometric identifiers to search its database of people’s images. Is this a wise policy? Maybe it would be better to allow law enforcement to search the DMV’s database to keep us safe.

But that doesn’t matter until and unless the law is changed. Whether you agree with it or not, it is illegal for the Vermont DMV to carry out such biometric searches.

But the ACLU has discovered the Vermont DMV has been using a program that violates the law. According to Vocativ, the program

uses software to compare the DMV’s database of names and driver’s license photos with information with state and federal law enforcement. Vermont state law, however, specifically states that “The Department of Motor Vehicles shall not implement any procedures or processes… that involve the use of biometric identifiers.”

The program, the ACLU says, invites state and federal agencies to submit photographs of persons of interest to the Vermont DMV, which it compares against its database of some 2.6 million photos and shares potential matches. Since 2012, the agency has run at least 126 such searches on behalf of local police, the State Department, FBI, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Whether such searches violate privacy, as the ACLU claims, a government that breaks a law to track citizens is a threat.

I don’t know if the ACLU’s concerns about privacy are justified. But according to a video that was posted along with the article, facial recognition programs using biometric identifiers are not that accurate. They’re not like fingerprints. So widespread reliance on such a program could cause people to be falsely accused.

Read the Whole Article: “Vermont DMV Used Illegal Face Recognition.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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