Monday, May 23, 2005

Ok, Now let me see your face, please

Today the Senate passed HB 2337, the biometric boondoggle, which would require the DPS to take facial recognition information from people applying for or renewing their drivers’ licenses. With little drama, the bill passed 28-2.

When the bill first came up, though, Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, did cast several frantic glances at his aide across the room. Apparently he was at a bit of a loss for the facts to answer the questions of a few legislators. After a few hours break and a couple of ammendments, the concerns were apparently quelled.

The amendments put a limitation on who has access to the information. Outside agencies are only allowed access with written permission from the individual. But, the bill still allows info sharing among law enforcement agencies. The second amendment requires annual reporting of any errors that occur in the recognition process and whether or not these errors are affecting a specific racial population.

Staples says the bill will be used to prevent identity theft and to identify victims of natural disasters. But, that's all. Shapleigh expressed concern that the legislation might be used for more than that.

"I’ll be the first one to join you if we do see abuses occurring," Staples said. With the way law enforcement has been "utilizing" their powers in the epic battle against terrorism, it seems that "when" we see abuses occurring may be the more accurate statement.