In this week’s FOIA round-up, records show federal law enforcement officials combine facial recognition software with drivers liscened databases to track undocumented immigrants, an admiral slated to become the next U.S. Navy chief abruptly retires after damaging emails are released, and legal rights groups raise questions about the constitutionality of gang policing.
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At least three states scanned driver’s licenses on behalf of ICE
According to public records obtained by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, at least three states - Utah, Vermont, and Washington - have scanned driver’s license on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, unbeknownst to drivers. Civil liberties groups have raised concerns at the federal agency’s mining these licenses for facial recognition data.
Read the Associated Press’s full story here.
Top Navy leader retires after controversial emails are uncovered
The New York Times reported that Admiral William F. Moran retired last Sunday amid scrutiny over his personal relationship with Commander Chris Servello, after Servello was accused of harassing female colleagues. Moran’s resignation came shortly after he was nominated to be the next Chief of Naval Operations. The admiral was criticized for continuing to mentor Servello even after he was investigated for ethics violations. Unnamed department officials said to the New York Times that a Freedom of Information Act request for Moran’s emails revealed an ongoing, close relationship with Servello.
Read the New York Times’ full story here.
New York activists question the legality of the NYPD gang database
The Appeal wrote on how a series of New York Freedom of Information Law requests coordinated by the Legal Aid Society and reporting by The Intercept, revealed that the New York Police Department labels over 18,000 people as “active gang members” in its database. An overwhelming majority of these are black or hispanic, and over 400 are under 18. An individual listed as an “active gang member” has no way of knowing they are part of the database, and they have no way of challenging that identification. Civil rights advocates in New York and other cities with gang databases are using public records requests to gain alarming insights into these police gang databases.
Read the full story on The Appeal here.
Massachusetts lawmaker wants to create a public records exemption for police body camera footage
As the Massachusetts legislature debates new regulations for police body cameras, one Somerville representative put forth a bill which would make body camera footage exempt from public records requests. The proposal has been met with sharp criticism from Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who has said such a bill would limit critical police transparency.
Read the full story on WBUR here