Washington (September 13, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae D. Johnson urging the agency to end its use of invasive technologies, purchases of private commercial data and invasive surveillance tactics that threaten the privacy rights of individuals all across the United States. The letter points to a recent report by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology, which revealed that ICE has used facial recognition technology on the driver’s license photographs of almost one-third (32%) of all U.S. adults, and has access to the driver’s license data of almost three-fourths (74%) of them — in most cases without obtaining a search warrant.
“According to a recent report, ICE has used facial recognition and other technologies, and purchased information from data brokers, to construct a ‘dragnet surveillance system’ that helps ICE carry out deportation proceedings. Much of this effort, which has enabled ICE to obtain detailed information about the vast majority of people living in the United States, has been shrouded in secrecy,” the Senators wrote.
“This surveillance network has exploited privacy-protection gaps and has enormous civil rights implications,” the Senators continued. “ICE should immediately shut down its Orwellian data-gathering efforts that indiscriminately collect far too much data on far too many individuals.”
In their letter, Senators Markey and Wyden requested that ICE respond in writing to the following questions by October 3, 2022:
Read the full text of the letter HERE.
In June 2021, Senators Markey, Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) re-introduced their Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act. The legislation would prohibit use of biometric technology by federal agencies and condition federal grant funding to state and local entities on moratoria on the use of biometric technology. Markey, Wyden and 20 bipartisan senators introduced the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act last year to ban the government from buying Americans’ personal commercial data instead of obtaining a warrant.