1 of 4 | Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., pictured here, along with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called on ICE to stop its use of surveillance technology on Monday. File photo by Alex Brandon/UPI. | License Photo
Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Two Democratic senators on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to discontinue its use of surveillance technologies after a report that the organization is building a dragnet security system.
Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told ICE acting Director Tae Johnson that the agency's use of facial recognition technology and other surveillance tools threatens the privacy rights of individuals across the country.
"This surveillance network has exploited privacy-protection gaps and has enormous civil rights implications," Markey and Wyden said. "ICE should immediately shut down its Orwellian data gathering efforts that indiscriminately collect far too much data on far too many individuals."
The letter referenced a report from the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology that concluded that ICE acts as a "domestic surveillance agency."
The Georgetown Law center's report found that ICE has used facial recognition technology on the driver's license photographs of 32% of all adults in the United States.
The report also found that ICE has used databases from private data brokers and state and local bureaucracies to gain access to information like call, child welfare, employment and health care records as well as social media posts.
According to the letter, the Georgetown Law Center's report also noted that ICE uses data given to state and local agencies for its own purposes.
"ICE often accesses that data without the permission or even awareness of the entity that originally collected the information," Markey and Wyden said, quoting the Georgetown Law Center's report. "These practices raise serious concerns and questions about how ICE surveils the public and avoids key accountability systems."