Vermont DMV Keeps Breaking the Law With Illegal Facial Recognition
Vermont is one of the few states that have made it illegal for government agencies to use biometric identifiers (facial recognition technology). The state passed a law in 2004 out of concerns that new photo ID requirements would accelerate government surveillance and undermine Vermonters’ Constitutional right to privacy.
Even though it is illegal, the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been using facial recognition technology (FRT) since 2012 on the photos of driver's license and state ID applicants and provides the information associated with the photo to any agency requesting it.
The DMV has run at least 126 FRT searches at the request of a variety of local, state, and federal government agencies, and secretly shared the photos and “associated information” of potentially thousands of Vermonters with those agencies. DMV has responded to search requests from the FBI, ICE, the U.S. State Department, and state and local police departments from around the country.
Vermont ACLU staff attorney Jay Diaz said, “DMV’S program is patently illegal—there is nothing in the legislative history or administrative record we reviewed to indicate that this program should be exempt from the statute’s requirements. To the contrary, the extensive problems uncovered by the ACLU show exactly why the Legislature was right to adopt this law to protect Vermonters’ privacy from government surveillance.”
Ironically, the statutory language was crafted by thenDMV Commissioner Bonnie Rutledge specifically to address legislators’ concerns that DMV would eventually use facial recognition technology on license applicants’ photos.
The current Commissioner, Robert Ide, justifies his law-breaking by claiming that outside agencies would only receive Vermonters’ biometric information if they met “stringent criteria", yet he has never turned down a request.
Commissioner Ide hasn't been breaking just the FRT law, he also regularly violates the Vermont policy that prohibits state officials from carrying out federal immigration policy. The DMV was recently sued and lost for its violation of the state policy and was ordered to pay a $40,000 penalty. Some Americans may think that any government agency should have ready access to their personal information, regardless of state privacy protection laws. The problem with this thinking is that an increasing number of government agencies and their personnel engage in criminal activity and target Americans for political reasons, to protect criminal activity or seek personal revenge against someone.
In the case of Vermont, the people of Vermont used their Constitutional right to protect themselves from government violation of their privacy and to claim that Vermonters don't have that right is to undermine the entire notion of democracy and liberty.
The fact that our government knowingly engages in criminal activity and its crimes are allowed to continue should serve as a sobering wake-up call to all Americans.
Why hasn't the Vermont DMV Commissioner, Robert D. Ide, been arrested and prosecuted for violating the law?
Since many government agencies won't enforce laws against their own or each other, is it time for the people to form their own law enforcement and court system to bring justice to criminals in government?
Criminal and enemy of the people, Robert D. Ide, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles since 2009.