DOL statement regarding facial recognition technology

July 8, 2019

DOL logoJuly 8, 2019 For Immediate Release.

News Reports – ICE and the FBI using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases.

Statement from Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen:

“National news reports about federal law enforcement and immigration officials’ use of state facial recognition databases has led to a high level of misunderstanding and confusion about how our state Department of Licensing protects this data. Our DOL has implemented strict standards to ensure data is not released to any law enforcement entity for immigration purposes or without a judicial court order or subpoena. There is no external access to the Facial Recognition System. System access is limited to very few specially trained DOL staff. We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the data and information of all Washingtonians.”

Background

The Washington Post reported ICE and the FBI using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens. The Department of Licensing does not provide access to our Facial Recognition System to local, state, or federal law enforcement entities. They must provide the agency with a court order signed by a judge.

The New York Times states “agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, though it was unclear whether the state carried out the searches.” The agency received 53 requests through court order or subpoena since 2013. Thirteen of those were federal requests. None have been received from 2017 to present. The remaining 40 were from local and state law enforcement entities.

Federal requests include:

  • One – U.S. Department of Justice
  • Two – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Four – Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
  • Six – U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

If a match was found through any request during this time, DOL would provide limited identity information.

DOL’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology

  • KUOW ran the headline “ICE uses Washington driver’s licenses to hunt immigrants for deportation, researchers say.” This is incorrect. No entity has access to DOL’s facial recognition system. They would provide a photo and DOL would conduct the research.
  • Law enforcement entities have no access to “mine” DOL’s state driver’s license databases using facial recognition technology.
  • As of February 2018, all requests must be court ordered.

DOL’s Facial Recognition Process

  • After receiving a court-ordered subpoena, DOL performs a search by comparing the photo provided by a law enforcement entity with DOL’s database. If a match occurs between the photo provided by the entity with a photo in DOL’s database, DOL provides the individual’s first, middle, and last name, date of birth, and ID or driver license number.
  • The Department of Licensing does the research. There is no direct external access to the facial recognition system. System access is limited to very few specially trained DOL staff.

Immigration and Citizenship Status                                                                        

  • The Department of Licensing does not collect information regarding a person’s immigration or citizenship status.
  • The Department of Licensing does not collect place of birth.
  • The Department of Licensing does not provide Social Security numbers.

Governor’s Executive Orders

  • The Department of Licensing is committed to following the Governor’s Executive Order 17-01 Reaffirming Washington’s commitment to Tolerance, Diversity and inclusiveness.
  • We fully comply with Executive Order 16-01, Privacy Protection and Transparency in State Government. We only collect information that is necessary to perform our agency duties to establish identification and driving privileges.

DOL signs agreements with four Latin American General Consulates regarding acceptable proof of identity

September 7, 2018

Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen, and four Consulates Generals of Seattle representing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru, signed an agreement this morning that allows the acceptance of their national ID cards and consulate cards to be used as proof of identity when seeking a Washington State driver license or identification card.

“Today marks a milestone in the Department of Licensing’s efforts to improve customer service and build relationships of trust,” said Berntsen. “We understand the importance of establishing identity when you become a resident of our state.  Working in partnership, we were able to create a process to make it happen.”

The agreements were signed by Elgardo de Jesús Chavez, Consulate of Honduras, Claudia Gatica de Moreno, Consulate of Guatemala, Miguel Ángel Velásquez Garcia, Consulate of Perú, and Clary Monzón, Consulate of El Salvador.

Group_finalLeft to right: DOL – Brad Benfield, Assistant Director; Meghann McCann, Deputy Director; Beau Perschbacher, Policy and Legislative Director; Teresa Berntsen, Director; Elgardo de Jesús Chavez, Consulate of Honduras; Claudia Gatica de Moreno, Consulate of Guatemala; Miguel Ángel Velásquez Garcia, Consulate of Perú; Clary Monzón, Consulate of El Salvador; and DOL Outreach Manager Rafael Estevez.

Department of Licensing launches a new, fully modernized driver licensing system

September 4, 2018

Drives logo

The Washington State Department of Licensing launched a modernized driver licensing system over Labor Day weekend. Customers will experience slower service during this transitional time.

The new system will improve services to citizens, agency business partners, and the state’s transportation system. State and federal agencies that rely on DOL data for public safety, licenses, identification cards, and revenue will also benefit from the new system.

This is the second in a series of overhauls to DOL’s legacy systems.  The first phase, which updated vehicle licensing systems, was successfully completed in December 2016.  A third project is planned to address the agency’s Business and Professional Licensing systems.

For more information about DRIVES, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/what-is-drives.html.


We’re Closed

August 31, 2018

The Department of Licensing’s transition to a new and improved computer system is underway, and all driver licensing offices are closed today through the Labor Day weekend. All vehicle licensing offices will be unable to do vehicle transactions and most online services are unavailable through Monday, September 3.

All of these impacted areas—driver licensing offices, vehicle transactions, and online services—will be available on Tuesday, September 4.

DOL apologizes for any inconvenience these closures may cause and we look forward to serving you better than ever before, thanks to our state’s new, user-friendly computer system for driver and vehicle services.

For more information, please visit dol.wa.gov.


Update — DOL office closures and online services temporary shutdown is happening this week

August 28, 2018

Click for larger view.

The Department of Licensing’s transition to a new and improved computer system is underway.

It started with some of our online services beginning to shutdown on Sunday, August 26.  Those online services will return on Monday, September 4.

Next up?  Two major developments begin this Friday:

All driver licenses offices will be closed this Friday, August 31, through Monday, September 3.

And all vehicle licensing offices will be unable to do vehicle transactions from August 31 through Monday, September 3.

All of these impacted areas—driver licensing offices, vehicle transactions, and online services—will be available on Tuesday, September 4.

DOL apologizes for any inconvenience these closures may cause.

We also look forward to serving you better than ever before, thanks to our state’s new, user-friendly computer system for driver and vehicle services.

For more information, please visit dol.wa.gov.

 


Reminder: All driver and vehicle licensing services will be unavailable August 31 through September 3 for system upgrades to improve customer experience in offices and online

August 23, 2018

Drives logoThe Washington State Department of Licensing will launch a modernized driver licensing system at the end of August, and customers need to be aware of office closures and the unavailability of online services.

  • Driver licensing offices will be closed on Friday, August 31 through September 3
  • Vehicle licensing offices will be unable to do vehicle transactions, August 31 through September 3
  • Online services will be unavailable, some starting as early as Sunday, August 26 through September 3
  • All licensing services in offices and online will return on Tuesday, September 4

Services impacted and not available include:

  • Driver license and ID card issuance
  • Vehicle and vessel registration
  • All online services, DOL’s call center, and reporting the sale of vehicles

“We apologize for the inconvenience this closure may cause but look forward to providing the residents of Washington with a modern, user-friendly system for driver and vehicle services,” said DOL Director Teresa Berntsen. “This new system will allow for an improved customer experience with several additional online service options.”

New Security Feature for Driver Licenses and ID cards

The method used to assign a driver license number to each person is changing and the new numbers will better protect everyone’s personal information. Washington driver licenses will now have the prefix “WDL” (Washington Driver License) followed by nine randomly assigned letters and numbers. This is a change from the current driver license numbers in use today which were based on a person’s name and birth date.

“We are pleased to provide this additional layer of privacy and security for our customers,” said Berntsen. The change to the new driver license number will start with all Washington driver licenses and ID cards issued on September 4, 2018. Those who already have a driver’s license or ID card will get the new number when they renew or replace it after September 4.

For more information about DRIVES, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/what-is-drives.html.


Department of Licensing launching new, fully modernized driver licensing system September 4

July 26, 2018

Online and in-person service disruptions expected August 26 to September 3

The Washington State Department of Licensing is preparing to launch a modernized driver licensing system at the end of August, and customers need to be aware of office closures and service disruptions. In order to transition from the old system to the new system, driver licensing offices will be closed Friday, August 31 through September 3. Vehicle licensing offices may be open, but unable to provide licensing services.

Services impacted and not available are:

Customer Service Center

  • DOL’s call center
  • DOL’s on-line services

Driver License Services

  • Driver licenses
  • Instruction permits
  • Identification cards
  • Enhanced driver licenses
  • Commercial driver licenses
  • Certified copy of driver record (Abstract Driving Record)

Vehicle and Vessels

  • Vehicle and vessel registration
  • Vehicle titles
  • Reporting of sale of vehicles
  • Pick-up of registration and tabs ordered through on-line services

Business and Professional Licenses

  • Pro Rate and Fuel Tax
  • Counter services in Olympia and Vancouver

Beginning August 26, and throughout the weekend, many DOL online services, like those used to buy car tabs and renew driver licenses, will also be unavailable. A full listing of affected online services is now available on the DOL website.

“We encourage customers to come in early to complete their driver license and vehicle transactions to avoid the rush leading up to the new system cutover weekend,” said Teresa Berntsen, DOL Director.  “If you need to visit our offices, come in early, or skip the trip and renew by accessing our online services.”

Once complete, the second phase of the DRIVES project will improve services to citizens, agency business partners, and the state’s transportation system. State and federal agencies that rely on DOL data for public safety, licenses, identification cards, and revenue will also benefit from the new system.

This is the second in a series of overhauls to DOL’s legacy systems.  The first phase, which updated vehicle licensing systems, was successfully completed in December 2016.  A third project is planned to address the agency’s Business and Professional Licensing systems.

For more information about DRIVES, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/what-is-drives.html.