I admit that I am astonished to discover that many people in the Great State of Oklahoma do not yet understand that their Oklahoma state driver’s license and ID cards are biometric.
I am not really surprised anymore when I find that sometimes people don’t care, but I am really shaken up when I find that they don’t know.
Here is the problem, we cannot begin to have an intelligent and informed discussion about the pros and cons of biometric ID (for ordinary law-abiding people) if we do not even understand that we are currently being subjected to it – And we MUST have this conversation!
The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations. . . . But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities.’ (Source: The Washington Post, June 17, 2013 State photo-ID databases become troves for police)
The current uses of biometric ID on the population is pretty tame compared to the planned and possible uses of the technology in the future. Right now we are blindly blundering ahead without looking at where we are headed.
Biometric simply means measurement of the body. Fingerprints, digital photos, iris scans and DNA are all examples of biometrics.
Explainer: PDF What is Biometric ID graphic FINAL
Every couple of years we hit another REAL ID deadline set by the Department of Homeland Security and the news media explodes with sensational stories about how ‘soon’ we will not be able to fly or enter federal buildings. (To put it simply, there is no danger of any serious disruption for most people any time soon.)
I guess I shouldn’t view these roving deadlines with such dread but instead look at them as an opportunity to educate people on the issue because, at least for a short time, because they are terrified of being inconvenienced, they are paying attention to this policy that otherwise lurks in obscurity.
I am addressing just one fact in this post:
Oklahoma’s state driver’s licenses and ID cards ARE biometric ID’s
You must submit to a fingerprint scan and facial biometric captured in order to receive a driver’s license or ID card in this state.
Oklahoma biometric driver’s licenses made their public “debut” in 2003-4
In 2010, the Department of Public Safety documents technical information regarding their collection of biometric data including the size of finger and face biometric template files and the size of its “facial recognition database” (See page 3 and 4)
None of this is hidden or a mystery of any sort. in fact, the Department of Public Safety is quite open about some uses of its biometric ID. Like for instance, the fact that if you have your face and finger with you, you can get a replacement license without any documentation of your identity.
How? Because with biometrics, your body is your ID.
Biometric data, especially facial biometrics, is extremely sensitive information that can be used to accomplish a great deal of surveillance and control over our personal affairs. It is important that we know what it is, who has it and how it is being used.
Downloadable 1 page explainer