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ACLU demands an end to Vermont DMV facial recognition

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union detail a surveillance program that the ACLU claims violates Vermont law.

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Matthias Graben, Getty Images

Vermont's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been using a facial recognition program since 2012, in contravention of the state's laws, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. In an announcement on its website, the ACLU has demanded an immediate end to the program, stating that it compromises the privacy and security of Vermont residents.

According to the Vermont DMV records obtained by the ACLU, the agency uses facial recognition software to conduct a search of Vermont ID holders in the the DMV's photo database. The DMV then shares these photos and any associated information with other state and federal government agencies, the ACLU said. Since 2012, the DMV has run at least 126 facial recognition searches at the request of other agencies.

According to the ACLU, this contravenes Vermont Statute law: "The Department of Motor Vehicles shall not implement any procedures or processes for identifying applicants for licenses, learner permits, or nondriver identification cards that involve the use of biometric identifiers."

However, according to the Burlington Free Press, commissioner of the DMV Robert Ide said that the law only pertained to license and ID applicants, not license holders in the database with approved applications. The next step, according to the Burlington Free Press, is Ide will respond to the ACLU's letter to the DMV outlining specific complaints.