Wednesday, March 25, 2015

House should narrow DPS thumbprint collection even further than laudable Senate bill

The Texas Senate has passed SB 398 by Charles Schwertner which clarifies that DPS does not have authority to take all ten fingerprints from drivers when they obtain or renew their licenses. Grits approves of the bill (see here and here), but it's worth mentioning that the proposal arose in reaction to DPS overreach, aiming to scale back fingerprint collection to where it was earlier - thumbprints only.

What hasn't been debated is whether we really need two thumbprints for the limited purpose - driver license verification - for which DPS is authorized to gather the biometrics. Grits fails to see why the state needs more than one, at most, to achieve that goal.

So yes, let's snub DPS' overreach on fingerprint collection in its tracks. But rather than automatically revert to the the prior rule, the House should take this opportunity to narrow biometric collection even further to match as closely as possible the stated purpose for which DPS is gathering it. Excess fingerprints beyond those bare minimum needs should be expunged from the system.

Sen. Schwertner deserves much credit for taking on this issue and standing up to DPS' overreach. But his bill could be further improved and the House should take the opportunity to do so.


Anonymous said...

This is a little off topic, but TDCJ has started collecting iris scans. Do you happen to know if this is something the lege approved, or if these scans are a similar data grab to what DPS did with the fingerprints?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No idea, never heard of it. Iris scans of employees, inmates, or both?

The only plausible thing I can think of is if it's being used in an internal security system for access, etc., in certain units. But if it's en masse, I'm surprised it hasn't come up at the Lege, at least in my presence.

Anonymous said...

They are doing scans of offenders before releasing them. I don't know if they are doing it of ALL offenders, or just certain ones, but it's something that seems to have started within the last year.

Anonymous said...

PS: 8:50 here again. I was told about this from an offender who just had his scans taken. But I also happened to visit the non-contact portion of the Huntsville unit and there is a "how to" for the iris scans posted on the wall just opposite the women's bathroom. I believe the machine is there, too, and that is where the scans are being taken.