Vermont AG says DMV facial recognition program violates state law

The Vermont attorney general has determined that the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ use of facial recognition technology is not fully compliant with state law and that the program should continue to be suspended unless the Legislature gives the DMV authority to use biometric technology.

Earlier this year the ACLU raised concerns that the program, which includes 2.7 million images of license applicants and has previously been shared with police, is in violation of a Vermont law that prohibits using biometrics to identify license applicants. In May, Governor Phil Scott shut it down pending a legal review by the attorney general.

In an interview with Seven Days, DMV Commissioner Robert Ide said he would ask lawmakers to consider crafting a law that would allow the agency to restart the program. “We would like to work with interested partners in the legislature to see if we can’t find the proper language to provide safeguards to see if people will be comfortable turning the system back on.”

The DMV initially described the facial recognition system as a fraud prevention program that would not be shared with law enforcement but media reports indicated that police have used the database on more than 100 occasions.

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