Triangle residents largely weary of government’s possible use of NCDMV photos for facial recognition

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Many in North Carolina and nationwide are asking how much the government should have access to personal information.

It was recently revealed the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and similar agencies in other states could be sharing people’s driver’s license photos with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI and ICE said they’re using DMV databases to track down criminals and missing people with facial recognition technology. Some people locally and in Washington feel they’re invading privacy.

A picture is required on all North Carolina drivers licenses. Since January 2018, the DMV joined 20 other states in allowing the FBI and ICE access those same pictures for facial recognition.

“If ICE is using it for extra-legal means, I would be suspect of it,” said Thomas Mahon.

“When I hear that it, sounds like obstruction of trust by the government,” added Brandon Haynes. “Honestly, it seems like a breach of my personal space and my privacy.”

The program is raising red flags with more than just private citizens.

The United States Government Accountability Office found that the FBI hadn’t fully adhered to privacy laws and policies or done enough to ensure the accuracy of its facial recognition program.

“I pay for some of the services that my government provides, but I don’t think I pay for them to breach my trust and my identity,” said Haynes.

“I just think it’s a bit of an over reach against civil liberties,” added Mahon.

A NCDMV spokesman said that, while they do allow the use of facial recognition software in their databas,e they do not allow any law enforcement agency, including the federal government, full access.

“I would like them to leave the program and not be one of the states that does it,” said Mahon.

“I just don’t think its right to treat any US citizen like this,” added Linda Ng.

The NCDMV does provide a disclaimer to all agencies using facial recognition that they do not guarantee the accuracy of the search and that arrests should not be made solely using that information.

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