AUSTIN, TX - State Senator Van Taylor filed SB 281, the Protect Personal Identifiers Act, which would expand the definition of "biometric identifiers" to prohibit a governmental body from capturing or possessing these additional identifiers without explicit statutory authority or written consent.
"Big-government has no business collecting or storing a database of body scans, DNA samples, or other personal biometric identifiers of law-abiding Texas citizens without explicit authority," stated Taylor. "A government that would invade personal privacy to a such degree that it would seek to collect the most personal and sensitive identifiers of the people without approval belongs in a science fiction book, not the State of Texas."
A biometric identifier is a quantifiable characteristic of a human body that can be used to identify an individual. Examples include fingerprints, voiceprints, retina or iris scans, or records of hand or face geometry. Although fingerprints are currently the most commonly used identifier, the technology that captures new kinds of biometric identifiers has become more advanced, allowing entities to capture more types of information.
The Protect Personal Identifiers Act expands the definition of what constitutes a biometric identifier established by a 2001 law, HB 678 (77R), authored by Representative Brain McCall (R-Plano). Recognizing changing technology over the last fifteen years, the Protect Personal Identifiers Act expands the definition to include blood samples, hair samples, skin samples, DNA samples, body scans, and any other measurement of the human body or its movement. Additionally, this bill limits the authority of government entities to collect biometric identifiers by requiring explicit, statutory authority to capture or possess an individual's biometric identifier. This means that a governmental entity cannot obtain a biometric identifier without authorization from the legislature. Further, any collected biometric identifiers cannot be shared without the consent of individual.
During the 84th legislative session, Senator Taylor led the fight to protect millions of law-abiding Texans from being forced by agency rule to provide a full set of ten finger prints just to renew their driver license. After several discussions between Senator Taylor and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), in February of 2015 DPS announced that it would no longer collect a full set of ten fingerprints. Taylor then carried HB 1888 authored by Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller), which included a Senate amendment requiring DPS to delete all fingerprints collected in a manner that did not comply with state law. This legislation passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 136-7.
"When I was first approached by constituents who felt the compulsory collection of a full set of fingerprints from innocent citizens infringed on their civil liberties I immediately got to work," Taylor continued. "When I further researched the issue and learned this practice was happening counter to the directive of state law, I was furious. Making what is in essence law absent of the legislative process violates our state’s system of checks and balances and opens the door to a host of unintended consequences. While I am pleased that through our efforts records of wrongfully collected fingerprints are now destroyed, it is troubling that big-government forced nearly two million Texans to go through a full fingerprinting, as if they were criminals, just to renew their driver's license."
For his efforts on reversing the collection of ten fingerprints via agency rulemaking, Taylor was named to the Dallas Morning News "Watchdog Hall of Fame."
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman of both the Nominations Committee and the Sunset Advisory Commission. He is also as a member of the Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation Committees as well as the interim Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.