JEFFERSON CITY - In an era when privacy has been all but eliminated by social media, Missouri lawmakers are worried that a new process for obtaining both driver's licenses and non-driver's licenses would result in personal data being used by third-party vendors and that it would be funneled into government databases.
Members of the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee embarked on a fact-finding mission in a hearing Monday.
"What we are talking about is personally identifiable information...and how that is shared with others," said Committee Chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City. "It is not this committee's role to indict or declare any activity legal or illegal. Instead our job is to discern the facts as best we can with testimony here today, and to use those facts to determine that the legislative solution is necessary, warranted or possible."
A lawsuit in Stoddard County last week sparked controversy after alleging that license offices have been relaying the personal information of gun owners to the federal government after the new system was put in place.
The Missouri Department of Revenue's new licensing system, known as Central Issuing, would require license offices to scan source documents verifying a person's lawful presence in the state, such as his or her birth certificate, passport or military identification card. Under this system, the information is sent to the Missouri State Data Center in Jefferson City where it is split into two separate files: one containing the person's picture, which is only to be used by law enforcement, and the other containing license information to be destroyed after the license is printed.
John Mollenkamp, the department's deputy director, said the transmission of this data is point-to-point.
"It goes to the computer, then to the router where it is encrypted and sent to Jefferson City," Mollenkamp said. The separated files, "go on a separate closed connection to the print factory."
After the license is printed, the file containing the license picture would be available to law enforcement officials, but the folio would be destroyed at the printer. However, Mollenkamp did not know how the destruction would be verified.
"L-1 (Identity Solutions) has contracts with 46 different states...to me it's actually a detriment to them because I would hope we would actually have more companies...a disbursement of vendors, so that not every American's information is in the hands of one private entity," Barnes said, referring to the company Missouri is using to print new driver licenses. L-1 Identity Solutions is now MorphoTrust USA after being renamed last year.
Another concern was that the new system would violate state statute.
"What the Department of Revenue is having our fee offices do is in direct violation of state statute." said Kerry Messer, president of Missouri Family Network. Messer cited a statute that states the Department of Revenue cannot collect personally identifiable information without specific statutory authorization.
"Maybe something has occurred into the budget committee, something written into a budget bill somewhere. That's not statutory authority," Messer said.