Oklahoma receives extension to comply with biometric data collection law

October 15, 2015 - 

Oklahoma’s government has received another extension to comply with the federal REAL ID Act, which makes it mandatory for all people who are renewing their driver’s license to submit their biometric data, such as fingerprints and a high-resolution photo, according to a report by Red Dirt Report.

For now until the October 10, 2016 extension deadline, federal agencies will accept Oklahoma-issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards for official purposes such as boarding commercial airlines and entering federal buildings and military installations.

“This is great news for Oklahomans and means there will be no restrictions on individuals using Oklahoma licenses to fly or access federal buildings,” said Governor Mary Fallin. “In the meantime, I will work this legislative session with the legislature, Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and the Department of Homeland Security on a permanent solution.”

Although the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 as part of an anti-terrorism package, the federal government has granted extensions on several occasions since most states are not in compliance.

As of July, only 23 states were compliant with Act, 28 were granted extensions and four are not compliant.

The legislature passed a measure in 2007 that prevents the Department of Public Safety (DPS) from contacting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to comply with the REAL ID Act — a bill which was introduced in the state Senate by former lawmakers Connie Johnson and Randy Brogdon.

Johnson said she supported the bill out of concerns that an enormous federal database containing the private information of millions of Americans, could easily be hacked.

Additionally, State Senator Nathan Dahm said the main reasons he is against the REAL ID Act is that it violates privacy rights and the $8 million price tag that Oklahoma would have to endure to purchase the new equipment for high-resolution photos, biometric (fingerprinting and facial recognition) software and holograms.

Previously reported, fingerprint background checks performed by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at the request of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services have often failed to uncover the criminal histories of individuals seeking employment.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.