ACLU Statement on Indefinite Suspension of Vermont DMV’s Facial Recognition Program
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan agrees the program violates Vermont law and must be suspended indefinitely
July 18, 2017
MONTPELIER— The Vermont Attorney General has announced, after a legal review, that his office agrees with the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont that the Vermont DMV’s facial recognition program is illegal and must remain suspended indefinitely. In May, the ACLU sent a letter to the DMV calling for the immediate suspension of its facial recognition program, after a six-month review of internal DMV records showed that the agency flouted state law banning such programs and compromised the privacy and security of thousands of Vermonters. Governor Scott suspended the program two days after the ACLU sent its letter to the DMV Commissioner.
ACLU of Vermont staff attorney Jay Diaz: “We are glad the Attorney General values Vermonters’ privacy and agrees that DMV’s facial recognition program is patently illegal. Forcing Vermonters to give up the equivalent of a fingerprint in exchange for the ability to drive, and sending their photos and personal information to agencies around the country, is unlawful and ineffective.”
ACLU of Vermont Policy Director, Chloe White: “DMV’s program invades Vermonters’ privacy, disproportionately targets people of color, places immigrants at increased risk of harm, and lacks due process protections to prevent further abuse. The extensive problems uncovered by the ACLU show exactly why the Legislature was right to adopt a statute to protect Vermonters’ privacy from government surveillance.”
James Lyall, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont: “This is a victory for civil liberties. We now ask Governor Scott to act consistently with the Attorney General’s conclusion and we call on the legislature to take all necessary action to permanently protect the privacy and civil liberties of all Vermonters from government abuse.
The DMV records at issue were obtained by the ACLU of Vermont through a public records request submitted in 2016.
The ACLU’s letter to DMV Commissioner Robert Ide can be found here.
A selection of the DMV records obtained by the ACLU can be found here: