Science & Technology



ICE used facial recognition to scan driver's license photos in some states. Illinois says it has turned down ICE requests.

Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

Clare Garvie, the senior associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology that gathered documents from departments of motor vehicles, said the Illinois secretary of state's office denied the bulk of her public records request.

The use of facial recognition among law enforcement agencies is not new, and its uses extend past police work. One of its most well-known uses is in tagging features on social media.

Criticism of facial recognition technology is widespread. Studies have shown it can be less accurate identifying women and people of color. Earlier this year, dozens of artificial intelligence researchers signed a letter asking Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies because of its biases.

Outside of police use, Illinois' strict law on the use of facial recognition software and other biometric information, which also includes fingerprint and iris scans, has made it a hotbed of litigation.

Companies such as Google, Facebook and Snapchat have faced allegations involving biometrics, and some companies have opted out of rolling out products that use facial recognition in the state.

The data includes biological or physical characteristics, and privacy advocates point out that if someone's biometric data is hacked, that person can't get a new face or fingerprints.

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But the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act does not apply to state or local government agencies, including law enforcement.

The Chicago Police Department has access to facial recognition technology but it doesn't use it often, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in an email. "When it is used, its only after a crime has occurred," he said.

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