Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Senate Transportation bills worsen problems they aim to solve

I noticed that several bills I dislike are up first thing this morning in the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, a few of which I discussed when their counterparts were up in the House:

Fingerprints as Biometrics Risk Massive Identity Theft
SB 1787 by Carona may be seen as a poster child for unintended negative consequences. It would authorize DPS "to contract with a private entity or a governmental entity to provide the electronic fingerprint system for verification of a person's age and identity and for monetary transactions" I've written previously about why using "biometric identifiers" for such purposes is a bad idea, and rather than repeat myself let me refer you to some of those past Grtis posts:
Before 2005, fingerprint data held on Texas drivers could not be accessed even by law enforcement without a court order. I thought changing that was a mistake on its face, but the mistake multiplied several-fold when, almost immediately after judicial oversight on fingerprint data was removed, Governor Perry authorized uploading Texans' fingerprint data to unnamed federal anti-terrorism databases, meaning the state has lost control of our personal information it's gathered. Now, Carona's bill would allow businesses to access this data to verify identity for financial transactions.

The biggest problem with biometric passwords is they can't be changed if they're stolen. To a computer, my fingerprint is just a string of ones and zeroes, and once someone has access to that electronic data they can replicate the biometric for a computer without me even being there. That creates huge risks for identity theft that don't exist today - the possibilities for misusing this data boggle the mind.

Authorizing Ineffective Sobriety Checkpoints
SB 59 by Zaffirini would authorize police to use sobriety checkpoints. As discussed here, these may be unconstitutional and in any event are an extremely ineffective police tactic.

Suspended DLs Filling Up Jails
SB 1085 by Carona expands the reasons for which people can have their drivers license suspended, including failure to update personal information and any conviction of any offense by someone under 21 years old. Since 2003, suspended licenses require large fines to reinstate, and many simply can't pay. Local county jails are already filling up with people driving on suspended licenses, and this bill will worsen the problem.

Slip Slidin' Away
SB 1354 by Carona would allow vendors to use the electronic swipe on your driver's license to verify identity when cashing a check. SB 1828 by Whitmire would allow the same thing for alcohol purchases. Neither piece of legislation restricts vendors from saving that electronic information or dictates how it may be used.

I hope this commitee rejects all these bills. Each of them, IMO, create more problems than they solve.


Anonymous said...

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." Tacitus 55-117 A.D.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Great quote! Personally I'd like to see that line engraved over the capitol's southern entrance. It summarizes a universal truth about government, IMO.

billt said...

Hey Scott, can you help me out? I'm still getting caught up with the 21st century...What does IMO mean? I know it's short hand for something, i just can't figure out what. I see you use it a lot, and it's got me horn swaggled. thanks.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ah! It's "In My Opinion." You also see IMHO, which is In My Humble Opinion, though my opinions aren't all that humble so I don't use that one much. ;)

billt said...

muchos gracias, senor