30K cops, others can access Ohio driver's license database with no oversight
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Ohio allows thousands of police officers and court employees to access driver’s license images online without oversight, by far the nation’s most permissive system.

A recent Cincinnati Enquirer/Gannett Ohio investigation found the state permits 30,000 law enforcement officers and others to search the image database, which Attorney General Mike DeWine admitted last month had been uploaded in June without telling the public or reviewing security protocols.

The Republican attorney general said similar technology was used by law enforcement in more than half the U.S., but the Enquirer’s report showed the technology is far more limited elsewhere.

For example, in neighboring Kentucky, a facial recognition search can be run by only 34 people – three in the driver’s license bureau and 31 in the state police.

The newspaper’s review found 38 states and the District of Columbia used systems that could match a photograph with a driver’s license picture, but those systems were launched and controlled by the driver’s license bureau.

Those systems were operated primarily to prevent duplicate or fraudulent identity cards.

Twelve states, including California, do not use facial recognition software.

Another 12 states, including New York, use the software but do not permit law enforcement to access the technology.

In Ohio, police officers have performed at least 2,600 searches since June 2 using the new database, which scans driver’s license photos and police mug shots and compares them to any image, including those from surveillance cameras.

Anyone with access to Ohio’s database could identify and acquire personal information, such as home addresses and Social Security numbers, for any person they wanted.

DeWine said he was satisfied the system had “adequate” safeguards in place, including threat of prosecution, to prevent misuse.

But the ACLU has called for DeWine to “pull the plug” on the system until “meaningful, documented rules” were put in place to keep the information secure and protect privacy.

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