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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

14 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.