Texas Dept. Of Public Safety Quietly Starts Demanding Full Set Of Prints From Drivers License Applicants

from the respect-my-non-existent-authority! dept

The Texas Dept. of Public Safety has apparently decided that if you'd like to be allowed to drive a vehicle in the state, you'd also perfectly fine with a criminal booking-style fingerprinting and having those immediately uploaded to a criminal database (that reps swear isn't a criminal database).

For years, Texas has only required a thumbprint as a minor security measure when obtaining a driver's license or ID card. That has now changed. It's unclear exactly when this went into effect (the Texas DPS made no announcement of this policy change), but longtime Dallas Morning News consumer affairs columnist, Dave Lieber, experienced it firsthand back in June.

The other day at the Texas driver’s license center, while paying for my required in-person renewal, the clerk said it was time to take my fingerprints.

What?

Really. Quietly, earlier this year, the Texas Department of Public Safety began requiring full sets of fingerprints from everyone who obtains a new driver’s license or photo identification card. This applies to those who come in as required for periodic renewals, but it doesn’t apply to mail-in renewals.
Not only that, but since 2010, Texas law enforcement has been running facial recognition searches on DPS license photos with its Image Verification System.

When Lieber exposed this, thanks in part to a former DPS employee (who noted the full set of prints are uploaded to AFIS [Automated Fingerprint Identification Service], creating a record in criminal databases if no previous record exists), a spokesman for the agency said it was perfectly legal plus pretty awesome at fighting crime.
A DPS spokesman tells me that the 9-year-old law makes a clear reference to fingerprints so the new fingerprint collection system is legal.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger says, “It is important to understand that the purpose of this process is to combat fraud, identity theft and other criminal activity, including potentially thwarting terroristic activity. Making sure that people are who they say they are in the process of issuing government identification is a critical safeguard to protect the public against a wide array of criminal threats.”
The law Vinger refers to is Transportation Code 521.059, a lengthy bit of which he quotes in a longer response to Lieber's article.
The Department is confident in its legal authority to collect 10-prints. The authority exists in current statute, including Transportation Code 521.059, (see below), and in current administrative code. The technology upgrade was funded by the Texas Legislature…

Sec. 521.059. IMAGE VERIFICATION SYSTEM. (a) The department shall establish an image verification system based on the following identifiers collected by the department:

(1) an applicant’s facial image; and
(2) an applicant’s thumbprints or fingerprints.


(b) The department shall authenticate the facial image and thumbprints or fingerprints provided by an applicant for a personal identification certificate, driver’s license, or commercial driver’s license or permit using image comparison technology to ensure that the applicant:

(1) is issued only one original license, permit, or certificate;
(2) does not fraudulently obtain a duplicate license, permit, or certificate; and
(3) does not commit other fraud in connection with the application for a license, permit, or certificate.


(c) The department shall use the image verification system established under this section only to the extent allowed by Chapter 730, Transportation Code, to aid other law enforcement agencies in:

(1) establishing the identity of a victim of a disaster or crime that a local law enforcement agency is unable to establish; or
(2) conducting an investigation of criminal conduct.

(d) Expired.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1108 (H.B. 2337), Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2005.
Vinger may be correct that the DPS is allowed to collect prints as the result of this law, but it's not specifically ordered (or permitted) to collect all 10 prints. Note that the section quoted says "thumbprints or fingerprints." This "or" is important. A look at the actual amendments to existing law shows that the DPS isn't actually required to demand a full set of prints.

The amendments also refer to 521.042(b), which states the following:
(b) The application must include:
(1) the thumbprints of the applicant or, if thumbprints cannot be taken, the index fingerprints of the applicant;
So, there's no legal backing to Vinger's claims. Sure, the DPS is technically permitted to collect all 10 prints, but only because nothing specifically forbids this practice. But the law does not demand all 10 prints be provided in order to obtain a license or identification card. The law only asks for thumbprints or index prints.

This is why it was rolled out quietly. The DPS has no legal "authority" to demand a full set of prints before handing out a license. What it can do, however, is ask for them. At this point, supplying a full set of prints is purely voluntary. The DPS can't prevent you from obtaining a license if you refuse, but the whole system is set up to make it appear as though it's mandatory.

Even one of the legislators who crafted the bill stated the intent of the law was never to allow collecting a full set of prints from every person with a Texas drivers license.
Bill co-author Juan M. Escobar, who in 2005 was a state representative from Kingsville, said he recalled the point of his bill was to prevent immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from obtaining a driver’s license.

“I think the intent of the bill was to ensure that the individual was the right person that was applying for a driver’s license,” said Escobar, now county judge in Kleberg County. “The intent was to avoid the privacy issue violation. We’ll just do the thumbprint or the index finger. That was my intent.”

He added, “If they’ve gone past the law, there’s nothing that gives them that authority.”
Escobar mentions illegal immigration. DPS rep Vinger mentions terrorism. Both used tangential hot-button issues to further the amount of information demanded by Texas in exchange for a highly-essential part of everyday life. But the DPS is now exceeding even the questionable aspects of a law predicated mostly on fear. (As Lieber points out in the comments, even the 2005 law was partially motivated by terrorism fears, prompted by Gov. Perry's 2005 Homeland Security Action Plan. [pdf, p. 36])

The state gave the DPS the authority to collect index prints if thumbprints couldn't be obtained. For whatever reason, the DPS -- nearly a decade later -- has decided to roll out a very imaginative reading of the 2005 statute. Worse, it's claiming its interpretation of words that aren't actually there is "legal authority." And when questioned, it's falling back on "terrorism" and but-surely-you-want-criminals-to-be-caught rationalizing.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 11:09pm

    It's Texas

    I don't imagine they would have much trouble getting at least one finger, maybe two, once people realized that they were being treated like a criminal even though the law doesn't require it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:47am

    Because Terrorism...

    Shall we just finally admit our leadership are the largest terrorists we have ever faced?
    They use fear tactics to make sure you do only what they want you to do.
    They use fear of retribution to get compliance to these dictates, even if they appear to violate the rights you allegedly have.

    If we don't vote them out, the terrorists will win.
    What do you support terrorism?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 2:05am

    That's not all Texas does with it's DMV data. It also offers to sell that data to various interested parties that would like to know you bought a new car (and thus need more insurance). You can not opt out as there is no provision to do so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 2:14am

    As a Texan, and with my renewal coming up later this year, I'm extremely concerned and frankly annoyed by something like this, guess ill see if it really is voluntary in a couple months

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 2:24am

    Re:

    If I might make a suggestion, might be a good idea to take a copy of the relevant law/amendment in there, just in case they try and convince you that you have to provide a full set according to law, as it sounds like they have no problem lying or 'misleading' people about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    HT (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 4:02am

    What the hell are they talking about? Do they really think that a terrorist is going to go to the local DMV and get a licence? No.. They'll forge one. The only thing you'd really need an officially confirmable ID for is stuff a terrorist wouldn't want/need to do anyway.

    These guys are complete idiots. Encroaching on rights, just cause!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    LAB (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 4:59am

    "the full set of prints are uploaded to AFIS [Automated Fingerprint Identification Service], creating a record in criminal databases if no previous record exists)"

    Say What?!! Absolute encroachment on rights. All in the name of illegal immigration and thwarting terrorism. Disturbing to say the least.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 5:42am

    Another example of what happens when idiots are put in positions of authority.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:10am

    Once again something that's supposedly "voluntary" is being presented to people as "mandatory". Despicable!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:19am

    any bets ? ? ?

    on the next step, which is to require DNA samples for drivers license...
    you know, for the children...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:28am

    To law enforcement, we're all criminals. Either we're convicted criminals, or we're potential criminals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Charles (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    I am in the same position. Research is in order, I suppose, and now I will have a chance/opportunity to practice my new-found sense of activism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    Or play with Super Glue before you go in for the renewal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    The "terrorists" that the FBI is interested in catching with the plots that they create are likely to get a license and have their fingerprints stored as when they get fingerprinted they have no intention of ever being a terrorist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 7:51am

    Re: It's Texas

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 8:52am

    Re:

    FTFY

    "To law enforcement, we're all criminals. Either we're convicted criminals, or we're criminals they have insufficient evidence to detain/arrest/prosecute/convict."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    DMNTD, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    One you rest at all.

    This is par for the course. IF at anytime there is a biometric system put into place, it will expand ad infinitum with no boundary to it's pervasiveness. simple.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:11am

    Wait, nobody knew this? I got my first Texas photo ID a month or two ago and they scanned both of my hands. (And everyone else who was getting a card.) I had no idea it was significant. (And neither did anyone else who was getting a card, presumably.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    Until just recently they only asked for your thumbs. I remember when there was no magnetic strip and they looked like a laminated season pass to a theme park. I remember being pissed the first time they asked for my thumb prints and then when the license came with a magnetic strip on the back, the first thing I did was take the biggest magnet I could find to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    Say What?!! Absolute encroachment on rights. All in the name of illegal immigration and thwarting terrorism.

    Those are just the excuses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    nubwaxer, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:35pm

    DNA

    i have never been tried or convicted of a felony but my DNA is in a database. a felony arrest does that for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Barbara Quintana, Jul 28th, 2014 @ 11:28am

    Midland Texas, Refused to giver drivers lic, despite the law

    Today my husband went in to get a license. Despite them even showing him the law that states finger prints OR thumbprints they told him they refused to take his license unless they took all 10. What is my legal recourse. I can afford an attorney and feel someone needs to take a stand. Any lawyers out there ready to take this on? Why are we being treated like criminals?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    ed, Feb 7th, 2015 @ 6:40pm

    dps law

    33yrs ago I swore to get the hell away from these WACKO'S, Texans seem to have a lack of self estem or self worth ! Always looking for away to have one up on each other or push there belief on the non compliant, yet believe in "independemt CONSERVATIVE VALUE'S",,so they say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Craig (profile), Feb 13th, 2015 @ 6:48pm

    59 year Lie in Texas

    Think the TxDPS wont lie ? First Drivers License Law in Texas was in 1936....or was it? Supreme Courts call BS....

    “The court has held that there is no such license known to Texas Law as a "driver's license.” (Frank John Callas v. State, 167 Tex. Crim. 375; 320 S.W. 2d 360. 1959)

    And… “We have held that there is no such license as a driver's license known to our law.” (Claude D. Campbell v. State, 160 Tex. Crim. 627; 274 S.W. 2d 401. 1955)

    And… “An information charging the driving of a motor vehicle upon a public highway without a driver's license charges no offense, as there is no such license as a driver's license known to the law.” (Keith Brooks v. State, 158 Tex. Crim. 546; 258 S.W. 2d 317. 1953)

    And… “There being no such license as a "driver's" license known to the law, it follows that the information, in charging the driving of a motor vehicle upon a highway without such a license, charges no offense.” (W. Lee Hassell v. The State, 149 Tex. Crim. 333; 194 S.W. 2d 400. 1946)

    So from 1936 till 1995 any violation associated with Drivers License " ticket for no DL, suspended DL, expired DL, etc." was inacted upon citizens illegally....

    Yes you to can profit from legalized extortion with a Badge and a Deadly Weapon to back you up....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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