ACLU of Texas Hails Defeat of Bill That Would Have Created a Massive 'Biometric' Database of Drivers

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
May 27, 2003 12:00 am

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AUSTIN, TX-The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas today applauded state legislators for rejecting a bill that would have created a massive database of ‘biometric identifiers’ collected from every Texan with a driver’s license.

“”The Texas House sent a clear message today that Texans won’t tolerate the collection and dissemination of their personal information without a warrant or probable cause,”” said ACLU of Texas Executive Director Will Harrell. “”We’re proud of them for that vote, and extremely grateful.””

The legislation, Senate Bill 945, failed to pass a second reading today by a lopsided 111-26 vote on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. Significantly, Harrell noted, opposition to the bill among lawmakers was truly bipartisan: 56 Democrats and 55 Republicans voted against it.

The bill, which was authored in the Senate by Senator Steve Ogden and in the House by Representative Frank Corte, would have equipped the Texas Department of Public Safety with invasive technology that purports to be capable of recognizing individuals’ faces from video. The ACLU opposed the bill because of the implications of privacy infringement posed by the legislation.

“”Votes in the House of Representatives this session opposing placing cameras at traffic intersections and now opposing gathering biometric data have sent a clear message how the House feels about surveillance of average citizens,”” Harrell said.

In a recent report, the ACLU said that new technologies like biometrics provide the government with new ways to search individuals and collect massive databases of information on law-abiding people. These technologies have turned clichéd stories about ‘Big Brother’ into real world possibilities, according to the report. The ACLU report, Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance Society, is online at /node/24155

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