Texas DPS continues to push for full fingerprint sets

Texas’ Department of Public Safety said it will continue to push for the right to collect full fingerprint sets of Texas driver’s license applicants, according to a report by the Dallas News.

DPS director Steven McCraw recently told the Texas Public Safety Commission — an appointed board that oversees the agency — it will continue to fight for the authority to acquire full fingerprint sets.

Earlier this year, new legislature was passed resulting in state laws limiting the DPS to collect only prints of thumbs or index fingers.

In early 2014, the agency had begun collecting full fingerprint sets without providing any public notice or receiving permission from lawmakers.

The DPS placed the program on hold in February over privacy and cost concerns. The agency could not manage to convince lawmakers that “this information was vital,” McCraw told the Public Safety Commission in June.

“I underestimated the situation and didn’t make a persuasive argument,” said McCraw, adding that he would bring the issue to the attention of the next legislature.

Meanwhile, Senator Charles Schwertner said he would be happy to hear the DPS state its case once again, but indicated that he was unclear about the issue.

“I know I wouldn’t support that kind of unwarranted intrusion in the lives of law-abiding citizens,” he said in a written statement.

Many watchdogs and lawmakers said the agency went too far in invading privacy. Though it has been a long practice to collect people’s full fingerprint sets when they are arrested, legislators generally disagree with extending this practice to individuals who have not been accused of a crime.

Supporters of the complete fingerprinting process have said the additional biometric data would help keep people safe, while DPS officials said the full sets provide a more accurate identification tool than the thumbprints that are usually included with driver’s license applications.

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