Texas senate passes fingerprint licence restriction
13 March 2015 10:45 GMT

The bill argued that gathering all 10 fingerprints of citizens was an invasion of privacy.

The Senate Transportation Committee in Texas on Thursday passed a bill that prohibits the Department of Public Safety from collecting all 10 fingerprints of someone who applies for a driver’s licence.

Proposed by libertarian-minded bill by Sen. Charles Schwertner, R- Georgetown, the bill argued that gathering all 10 fingerprints of citizens was an invasion of privacy.

However, both officals from Department of Public Safety (DPS) and police bodies say that the changes could impact negatively on everything from police work to disaster recovery, and more.

Steven McCraw, the DPS director, wrote in a Dallas Morning News op-ed last year that authorities now relied on the fingerprint data.

“The department has a duty to protect and ensure the integrity of the driver’s license system, as these government-issued documents serve as de facto identification documents nationwide, which can be used to board a plane, conduct financial transactions, etc,” wrote McCraw.

He added that the state’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System is a fingerprint identification database that can only be accessed for investigative or statutory purposes.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, who was the committee’s only member to vote against the bill, told The Chron that the bill will have wide-reaching implications.

It could also potentially hamper police efforts to identify people after major weather disasters, such as when Hurricane Ike tore through the senator’s district in 2008.

“You got to have as much as you can and DNA is always the best, but if you don’t have that, fingerprints are best,” she said. “It could be that those two fingers aren’t on the person’s body. But we went through Hurricane Ike where some remains haven’t been found or identified even today.”