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Photo: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been using driver’s license photos for facial recognition searches without their owners' knowledge or consent, the Washington Post first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: This is the "first known instance of ICE using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens," notes the New York Times, which reviewed the details that Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology obtained via public records requests.

In Utah, Vermont, and Washington, undocumented people come out of the shadows to get drivers licenses. ICE then asks those DMVs to run face recognition searches to find and deport them."
— Center on Privacy & Technology founding director Alvaro Bedoya tweet

The big picture: Lawmakers including House Oversight Committee members have expressed concern previously over aspects of the FBI facial recognition database. The NYT notes that use of such technology by law enforcement is neither new nor rare, with more than 2 dozen states allowing law enforcement to request searches against driver’s license databases.

  • A Government Accountability Office report published in June shows the FBI has been accessing state law enforcement photo databases for nearly a decade, in particular those concerning visa and driver’s license applications.
  • In May, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban facial recognition technology by police and municipal agencies. However, Federal law enforcement is exempt.

What they're saying: The FBI referred the WashPost to the testimony that deputy assistant director Kimberly Del Greco gave to Congress in June in which she said facial-recognition technology is critical "to preserve our nation’s freedoms, ensure our liberties are protected, and preserve our security."

  • ICE declined to answer the WashPost's questions because it said "investigative techniques are generally considered law-enforcement sensitive."

Go deeper: Congress questions FBI over facial recognition database

Go deeper

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

The Week America Changed

Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Image

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.

Supreme Court declines to hear case on qualified immunity for police officers

The Supreme Court on March 5. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal for a lawsuit brought against Cleveland police officers that challenges the scope of qualified immunity, the legal doctrine which has been used to shield officers from lawsuits alleging excessive force, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The doctrine has been the subject of scrutiny from civil rights advocates. Eliminating qualified immunity was one of the key demands of demonstrators during nationwide protests in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd.