Maine Is Not Giving Federal Authorities Direct Access To Driver’s License Photos

Jul 8, 2019

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap at a news event in Augusta April 18, 2018.
Credit Steve Mistler / Maine Public

The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been accessing some state driver’s license databases to do facial recognition searches, but Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says Maine is building its own database and is limiting access for federal agencies.

Dunlap says Maine started building its own database last week as part of its efforts to comply with the federal Real ID law. He says access to the system will be limited, and that if a federal agency wants the photo of a specific person, the secretary of state’s law enforcement unit will search the database.

“If they gave us specific names and images of people they were looking for, we would probably have our law enforcement division do that work and look for matches,” he says.

Dunlap says federal agencies will not have direct access to the information Maine collects, as they do in some other states.

“We don’t allow open ended access by any agency. If a law enforcement entity were to say, ‘We are looking for an individual and we want to access that photograph to see if we can find him,’ we would probably say yes because that is a legitimate request,” he says.