Texas Bans Fingerprint Biometrics for Drivers Licenses

Texas bans fingerprint collection in drivers license applicationsA Texas senator’s bill has banned the collection of 10-fingerprint biometric credentials from drivers licence applicants in the state, according to a Chron article by Bobby Cervantes. The bill was drafted by Republican Senator Charles Schwertner, and was passed by the Senate Transportation Committee on March 11.

While Republicans in the US generally tend to support the provision of materials and powers to law enforcement agencies, critics of Mr. Schwertner’s bill believe he is motivated by a libertarian suspicion of state power. His legislation has upset a number of state officials, including the directors of Texas’ Department of Public Safety and the Texas Municipal Police Association, the latter of whom told Cervantes that his associates in the TMPA “just believe it’s a pretty simple, easy process that when someone applies for the privilege of a drivers license, to get all their fingerprints.” Democratic Senator Sylvia Garcia, who was the only member of the Senate Transportation Committee to vote against the bill, pointed out that the 10-fingerprint system is useful not just for criminal investigations, but for the identification of the victims of crimes and natural disasters, noting that “DNA is always the best, but if you don’t have that, fingerprints are best. It could be that those two fingers aren’t on the person’s body.”

The new legislation runs against growing trends that have seen the increasing implementation of biometric technology in the issuance of official state documents, and in police investigations. It does, however, illustrate the persistent theme of the perceived infringement of biometric technology on civil rights, as illustrated in San Francisco city workers’ antagonism toward a new biometric employee attendance system.

March 19, 2015 – by Alex Perala