Investigating the Actions of DOR
Our nation’s Founding Fathers understood the consequences of a power-hungry government and designed a government in which citizens could be free and not under the watch of a domineering regime. The threat to liberty was spotlighted this week as the Senate discussed alleged unlawful actions taken by the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR), which has been accused of infringing on Missourians’ privacy through the state’s driver’s license renewal system. It is the intention of the Legislature to get to the bottom of this matter and ensure that Missourians’ personal liberties and information are safe.
When Missourians seek a driver’s license or non-driver’s license (such as a CCW), they are required to produce documentation, such as a birth certificate. Through a court case in Stoddard County, it came to light recently that documentation is being scanned by DOR during this process and sent to a database. DOR recently made this procedural change, which clearly ignored Missouri law. The Georgia company that DOR sends the data to produces driver’s licenses and other permits, and, in the end, is supposed to destroy the information. However, lawmakers have noted that DOR cannot confirm that the information is terminated, and allegations have arisen that Missourians’ information is being shared with the federal government.
Hearings were conducted to investigate DOR’s actions, and officials from the state agency denied allegations of sharing source documents with the federal government. As noted in an article by Missourinet, the Senate Appropriations chairman said that the revenue director assured him the gathering of information did not involve the Department of Homeland Security and that the federal agency had not given DOR any grants. The article further states the senator noted that, “the department later denied gathering biometric data on license applicants. But earlier this week, a department official admitted to a legislative committee it was, in fact, gathering the information and, further, has a Homeland Security grant to help get the information.”
Missourians are rightfully furious. Law passed by the General Assembly in 2009 prohibits DOR from amending driver’s license application procedures in order to comply with the goals or standards of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. They also cannot sell any data derived from a person’s license or permit application for commercial purposes. The law states that any biometric data previously collected for the issuance or renewal of driver’s licenses or identification cards must be retrieved and deleted from all databases. Biometric data is defined as information that is used to uniquely identify individuals, such as a person’s facial characteristics. The federal government has no legitimate reason for holding this type of private information about Missourians.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” In moving forward, we need to determine the appropriate consequences for any unlawful actions committed, and ensure Missourians’ personal information is protected. To ensure that DOR does not rise above the law, a Senate bill (SB 252) is making its way through the upper chamber to prohibit DOR from retaining copies of source document used to obtain driver’s licenses and non-driver’s licenses. We are also continuing the investigation to discover whether unlawful or unethical action should be prosecuted.
Concerned Missourians should contact their elected officials and stand up against the injustice that has occurred in regards to their privacy. This matter will not be pushed under the rug — the tone of the upper chamber is that of outrage — and your liberties will be defended.
I appreciate you reading this Legislative Report, and please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions.
Thank you and God bless.