Archive for the ‘Department of Public Safety’ Category

AUSTIN – The 5-11 Campaign, a grassroots privacy organization opposed to the federal ID, declared 30 days of vigilance over identity legislation with connections to Information Analysis Centers (IAC), or what is now commonly known as Fusion Centers.

“Based on reports that fusion centers are targeting 3rd party voters and those who pose Constitutional challenges to the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence gathering efforts, we are aggressively opposing any legislation that would secure our private information for national to international data aggregation. This may include voter ID. No one should be profiled or targeted based on an electronic record of how they voted. A routine intelligence seizure based on a national security directive, such as the one issued in Missouri, would lead to arbitrary and reckless disregard for our privacy and personal sovereignty,” says Sheila Dean, President of the 5-11 Campaign.

This legislation observed for action during the vigil includes opposition to HB 4036. The Texas bill calls for compliance with the federal ID mandate. American license information, social security number and citizenship documents may be stored and shared with customs through an insecure fusion center. Other legislations included during the month long vigil touch upon DNA databases, animal information systems, drivers licenses, identity cards and other relevant attributions of private identity.

Last Monday (3/30), the Public Safety Committee heard testimony which included challenges to existing efforts to gain public consent over fusion center storage of license or ID card information. Many objections were raised over the call for facial recognition technology, among other regulations in the Real ID Act of 2005. Texas’ federal Real ID extension for compliance expires December 31, 2009.

Public Safety committee members are concerned about Texans being refused passage into federal buildings and airports based on Texas federal extension status. According to staffers, the DHS has been unclear about the extension standards until now with one exception; the inclusion of citizenship status on licenses.

“When an license to operate a motor vehicle becomes a de facto citizenship document, it becomes a national ID card. We are opposed to a national ID. We hope the 81st legislature will stand on the 10th Amendement and reject the whole Act,” said Dean.


Incomplete Networks & Intelligence Aggregation

The push to expand identity databases nationally are suffering from a big brother reputation, networking inadequacies and insufficient funds.

According to a report released last month from the DHS Inspector General, fusion centers across the U.S. are inadequately networked, non-existent or vastly underfunded to comply with the federal mandate for identity storage and national identity sharing.

“DHS did not provide timely and specific guidance on how REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards must be marked, best practices for the physical security of facilities, or information on the systems that will be used for verifying applicant documentation. To achieve full compliance with REAL ID standards by 2011, states must connect with electronic verification systems to verify identification documents. Several of the systems needed do not yet exist. Specifically, 18 of 19 states, or 95%, reported that available grant funding was insufficient. Several states referred to the amount received as a “drop in the bucket.” – DHS INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT

THE DHS, INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT OVER FEDERAL REAL ID IMPLEMENTATION
http://www.realnightmare.org/images/File/DHS%20OIG%20Real%20ID%200309.pdf


MORE ABOUT FUSION CENTERS
http://www.it.ojp.gov/default.aspx?area=nationalInitiatives&page=1181

Civil Liberties Assessment & Impact
http://www.it.ojp.gov/default.aspx?area=privacy

ACLU: What’s Wrong With Fusion Centers – Executive Summary
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/gen/32966pub20071205.html

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SAN ANTONIO DHS CONFERENCE COVERS TEXAS FUSION CENTERS

Forums and discussions of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s incremental plan for information nexus accounts will take place Tuesday and Thursday during the Texas Homeland Security Conference in San Antonio.

NO TEXAS APPROPRIATION NOTES FOR REAL ID COMPLIANCE
THREAT OF FEDERAL BAILOUT FINANCE LOOMS

BTC FISCAL REPORT – The Texas appropriations notes to move forward database regulation fulfillments are non-existent according to sources at the Texas capitol. However, concerns voiced about resources available from the federal bailout increase the demand for government accountability. Amid the AIG debacle reports have unearthed that bailout finance has serviced ailing banks outside of the U.S. We will keep you updated on any fiscal movement toward DHS finance.

USA TODAY: More Gate Searches for Flyers; TSA

WASHINGTON — A new, more aggressive effort by airport screeners aims to halt randomly selected passengers for a security check just before they step onto their departing plane, according to a government memo obtained by USA TODAY.

Scores of passengers have already been pulled aside for searches as they waited in line at airport gates for boarding calls. Each of the passengers had already passed through security checkpoints when a uniformed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer asked them to step out of line to check their IDs or search their carry-on bags.

Passengers can be selected at random or for suspicious behavior, according to a TSA memo dated last Thursday. The program primarily targets riskier flights, according to the memo, which doesn’t specify how flights are singled out.

The TSA says it has done occasional checks of passengers at airport gates and that the new stepped-up effort has nothing to do with any particular threat. Rather, the effort is focused on the notion that mixing up tactics makes it harder for terrorists to monitor how security works, said TSA spokesman Greg Soule.

OHIO Organizes Against Real ID with the Ohio Freedom Alliance ….
Check out their action forum here.

Canada Next to Suffer Under RFID Enhanced Drivers Licenses c/o RFID News

Canada’s Province of Quebec has unveiled its Enhanced Driver’s License. The license, which includes both a bar code and an embedded RFID chip, is approved for use as a passport alternative in crossing the U.S. land border.

The enhanced license will cost Quebecers $40 (Canadian) more than a standard license. Provincial officials believe it will be useful for residents who live near the U.S. border and cross it frequently, eliminating the need to carry a passport on a daily basis.

La experiencia de inmigrar en USA: Opponents call new driver’s license rules for foreign nationals ‘institutionalized racism’: “information systems auditor in Austin. “Imagine my shock, my dismay, my fear, to find that these rules … designated me a mere temporary visitor to the U.S.””

The Department of Public Safety contracted research firm Deloitte & Touche to move forward “intelligence driven …protective counter-surveillance on the Governor’s protection detail, the Lieutenant Governor, visiting dignitaries, the State Capital and Governor’s Mansion,” as reported in Scott Henson’s blog, Grits for Breakfast.

http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2008/11/consultant-recommends-dps-create.html

DPS research contracts with Deloitte & Touche were mentioned last during the DPS hearing in surmising budgetary costs for implementing Real ID accounts and moving forward with continental U.S. inspections of licenses with consideration of citizenship.

DPS reorganization and budgets based on federal license regulations were part of the analysis propelling studies & reports generated by Deloitte and Touche.

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/texas/big_changes_possible_for_dps

The report calls for rebuilding DPS from top to bottom. A spokesperson said we should not expect changes overnight. “Some of the things that the study recommends are going to require legislative action, some of them are going to require additional financial resources,” said Mange.

SUNSET COMMISSION & DPS

DPS as a state agency is still under review for changes and improvements based on the oversight by Texas’s Sunset Commission.

Read the Sunset Commission’s review of the DPS here:

http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/81streports/dps/dps_dec.pdf

DPS Commission Hearing on Implementation Readiness for Real IDs

A BeatTheChip Exclusive

AUSTIN — Texas Department of Public Safety License Administrator Chief Judy Brown briefed the Public Safety Commission Thursday, October 16th on DPS’s application status for $171.2 million in FEMA/DHS grants to implement recent rules and technologies Real ID compliant license standards. Chief Brown discussed the public-private business model including staffing commissioned officers in a new proposed license administrator hierarchy, amid priorities to implement the federal mandate.

Brown indicated there was significant reluctance from State Legislators and resources to move forward with financing the new licenses with State funds. If the FEMA/DHS grants are accepted in the State of Texas, proposed rulemaking would standardize new licenses to for federal purposes such as: applying for social programs, entering federal buildings, and flying on regulated aircraft by the next deadline of 2009 and state the driver’s nationality.

C. Tom Clowe Jr. , DPS Comissioner, asked Chief Brown about her rationale for employing comissioned officers over civillian clerks.

“Civillians will argue with another civllian [clerk]. They will not argue with a uniform,” said Chief Brown during her commentary for incorporating a new job title, “Civillian Manager”.

Other topics covered during the meeting included a response from DPS Chairman Allen Polunsky to those giving public input regarding license inspection checkpoints. Citizens expressed opposition during public input to random license checkpoints and a new rule requiring citizenship documentation in order to attain a drivers license. Immediately following the testimony from members of the 5-11 Campaign, Polunsky said, “There are no plans… to instill public checkpoints at this time.” He added that concerns over the checkpoints were premature.

Later in the meeting, Chairman Polunsky submitted a letter from Texas Senator Juan Hinajosa concerned about the rulemaking for license requirements and license examination checkpoints.

Texas Becomes Roadblock Battleground  c/o The Newspaper.com

Interest groups battle over roadblocks ahead of the 2009 Texas legislative session.

Interest groups are pressuring Texas lawmakers to authorize the use of roadblocks ahead of their return for the 2009 legislative session. The practice of setting up barricades on roads to stop and interrogate motorists suspected of no wrongdoing has been unlawful since a 1994 state appeals court decision ruled that a “politically accountable governing body at the state level” must first approve their use. Now Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has scheduled an October 23 deadline for briefs to decide the Texas Public Safety Commission’s request to bypass this requirement and approve roadblocks on its own authority.

Texas is one of fewer than a dozen states that currently prohibit warrantless searches of motorists. For that reason, the new president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Laura Dean-Mooney, made convincing the Texas legislature of the need for roadblocks a high priority for her organization.

“I have a special place in my heart for Texas,” Mooney said upon taking the top job in July. “But so much more must be done. Passing interlocks for all drunk driving offenders and sobriety checkpoints to deter drunk driving would be a great start.”

MADD came close to a legislative victory in April 2007 when the state Senate voted unanimously to establish the waterborne equivalent of a roadblock. The proposed “boating safety checkpoints” would have allowed police to pull over and question all recreational boaters on lakes within the state. The legislation would also have given police the discretion to use force to take a boater’s blood to determine sobriety. The measure died when the state House declined to act on the bill.

The alcoholic beverage industry feels threatened by the chilling effect such draconian measures would have on sales of beer and wine at restaurants.

“By calling for roadblocks and mandating breathalyzers for first time offenders, regardless of their BAC level, MADD is ignoring the root cause of today’s drunk driving problem — hard core alcohol abusers,” American Beverage Institute Managing Director Sarah Longwell said. “Because they are highly visible by design and publicized in advance, roadblocks are all too easily avoided by the chronic alcohol abusers who comprise the core of today’s drunk driving problem. That leaves adults who enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a ball game, or a champagne toast at a wedding to be harassed at checkpoints.”

The possibility of innocent drivers being arrested at such checkpoints is increased by a state police policy that gives troopers an incentive to accuse motorists of drunk driving. In a June meeting of the Public Safety Commission, a twenty-seven year veteran of the state police testified about drunk driving (DWI) arrest quotas.

“Also, my second item, some of the troopers that have earned vacation and putting in requests for vacation are being told that their vacation request will not be considered unless they are getting a certain amount of DWIs,” retired Trooper Coy Lorance testified.

The commission responded by attempting to get around the prohibition on drunk driving roadblocks by referring to them as “license checks.” The group put in the request to the attorney general last month after receiving an inconvenient response from the state police chief.

“Mr. Chairman, you had asked at the meeting prior to… prepare a document that would relate the legal responses to conducting driver’s license, registration, and insurance checkpoints,” Department of Public Safety Director Thomas Davis testified in June. “I think it’s the recommendation of general counsel that without the authority being granted by a governance is that we’re not able to do that legally.”

In a 2005 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that 99.29 percent of drivers stopped at state roadblocks were innocent. The results also showed that it took 53 percent more effort to make an arrest with a roadblock than to use traditional roving patrol techniques. Nonetheless, the court upheld the validity of roadblocks (view ruling).

The request letter sent to the attorney general is available in a 170k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Request for Attorney General Opinion (Texas Department of Public Safety, 10/6/2008)