Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Where are the small government conservatives?

I hope every Texan who voted for candidates calling for smaller government watches closely HB 2337. That bill, which passed out of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee today, would allow the Texas Department of Public Safety to gather biometric facial recogniton data from Texas drivers, and make it available, along with thumbprints from the civilian database, for law enforcement use without judicial review.

There are so many things wrong with this idea it's hard to believe it's come this far. Here's a few examples:

The Texas Department of Public Safety responds to all criticisms with duplicitous doublespeak that boils down to, "Trust us, we're the government, we're only here to help." Bottom line, DPS wants full access to personal data about all Texans, whether or not they've committed a crime, and they don't want those pesky judges looking over their shoulder anymore.

The chief of the DPS drivers license division told me after this morning's hearing she thought it was appropriate for law enforcement to have access to a biometric password to a business or personal computer, without a warrant, because "I trust law enforcement" not to abuse the authority. Really? Ever? Do you think it's okay if police can have your computer password without a warrant, just because it's a thumbprint or facial recognition biometric instead of letters and numbers? That will be Texas law if HB 2337 is enacted.

Since I'm apparently one of hundreds of people who had DPS mail their Texas drivers license
to the wrong person (I was supposed to receive my renewal in the mail before May 10, but it never arrived; now my temp permit has expired and I must return to the DMV), I have a difficult time believing DPS never will make a mistake. What government agency could credibly say that? OBVIOUSLY not this one. What a joke.

Eleven senators need to find the gumption
to say "no" to this foolishness. So far the skids appear to be greased, though, and liberty's champions remain cowed.

Where are the small government conservatives who agree with this plank of the 2004 Texas GOP platform?
The Party directs that legislation be introduced in both the United States Congress and the Texas Legislature to repeal existing statutory requirements to end the ever increasing, incessant, recurring, and calculated gathering, accumulation, and dissemination of fingerprints, Social Security numbers, financial and personal information of law-abiding citizens by business and governments, the use of which are contrary to and destructive of our individual and collective freedom. Such legislation shall provide remedy and redress to any individual denied service for refusing to provide the above-mentioned information.
So far, they appear few and far between.

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