Occasional when someone tries to build a better mousetrap, he winds up creating more problems.
Such is the case with the digital driver’s licenses unveiled in 2003. At the time, adding digital photographs and thumbprints seemed like a great way to protect the identity of drivers. And it was - until it was time to get one renewed.
According to a recent report by the Associated Press, the new software that compares driver’s license photos has problems, in that it doesn’t always recognize the photo of the person renewing a license.
Karen Gentry, director of driver license examining for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, told the AP digital face recognition identifies features from previous license photos and compares it with the new photo as a way to prevent fraud.
Now that the licenses issued in 2003 are being renewed, problems are being discovered.
Sara Carshall, clerk at the Tahlequah Tag Office, has experienced a number of problems with the photos.
“We have a lot of problems with the program,” said Carshall. “I would say it happens at least twice a day.”
If the program fails to recognize the person in the photo comparison, Carshall has to make a call to Oklahoma City for an override.
“It’s not our job to approve something like that, even if we can plainly see the person applying for the renewal is the same person on the license,” she said. “We usually try the recognition program twice, then call Oklahoma City and ask for an override.”
Delays like these can cause frustration among patrons, especially during peak business hours.
While some people may be frustrated at the time it takes to renew a license, others resent the fact the state has approved using “biometric” data. According to Wikipedia, biometrics refers to methods used to recognize people based on physical or behavioral traits. In the instance of Oklahoma driver’s licenses, digital fingerprints and face recognition technology is used.
“There is a lot more to the driver’s license issue than a few hassles involved with getting it renewed,” said local resident Dr. Shannon Grimes. “I can only imagine what my grandparents or great-grandparents would say about the extent the government is keeping tabs on us these days.”
Grimes believes storing such data can create more security issues than it prevents, and cited another news story from 2007, in which driver’s license data was compromised in Elk City and Eufaula. According to the report, hackers obtained access at three Oklahoma law enforcement agencies and may have stolen private information meant only for police use.
“We should be concerned about sharing this personal information,” said Grimes. “There are many government and even international projects being pushed that would allow the sharing of our law enforcement- and public safety-related information. I simply do not trust governments and bureaucrats to safeguard collected information or even to not abuse it.”
Grimes believes it would be fairly simple for the government to use this data to “watch” unsuspecting citizens.
“Consider how easy it would be to use biometric quality pictures and related software to keep tabs on citizens by cameras and other technologies,” said Grimes. “With these privacy concerns in mind, I am against all the additional biometric ‘security’ they are wanting to put into our licenses. They are trying to make a defacto national ID card. Oklahoma has already rejected the real ID, but it is being put into place through the back door around the nation, anyway.”
Carshall has seen a number of people balk at the idea of being fingerprinted for their driver’s licenses.
“They misunderstand, because they think we’re accessing reports about them,” said Carshall. “When really, the fingerprint scan works like a signature. It’s for their own protection against identity theft.”
Grimes disagrees, saying driver’s licenses do little to keep people safer.
“We all see how little a license can mean every day on the road in regard to a driver’s skill or safety,” he said. “The added security for these licenses will only increase costs associated with licensing and further erode our privacy, and therefore, liberty. I guess it will also serve to criminalize more and more good people, as they refuse to comply with the ever-growing Big Brother government programs in their desire to maintain their privacy.”
State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, also finds the data collection invasive, and has authored a bill that would eliminate fingerprinting from the driver’s license process.
The measure, dubbed “The Religious Freedom and Privacy Protection Act,” or Senate Bill 289, is wending its way through the Legislature, and would prevent the state from collecting, obtaining or retaining “any biometric data” in connection with motor vehicle registration or driver’s licenses.
The bill bans sharing biometric information that has previously been collected and requires the information be deleted from current files.
Brogdon told the Tulsa World that if the bill passes, “that nonsense will stop.” Brogdon believes, like Grimes, that the federal government is trampling on states’ rights.
Technology used on driver’s licenses has flaws, causing renewal delays.
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The bear facts
A joint project linking two state agencies with researchers at Oklahoma State University is gathering the “bear facts” on a growing population in the northeastern part of the state.
A six-year study on black bears in Cherokee, Adair and Sequoyah counties is being conducted as a precursor to possible establishment of a controlled hunting season in Green Country. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management of Oklahoma State University have partnered for the endeavor.
Drug task force seizes K2 at a Tahlequah house
The District 27 Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force seized between $200 and $300 worth of synthetic drugs during a bust Friday.
The Tahlequah Police Department and the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service were also in on the raid. Members of the task force hope the seizure will aid in an ongoing investigation to find larger suppliers.
“We received information that sales were being made from a residence off Choctaw Street,” said Michael Moore, task force director. “Further investigation led to a state search warrant based on the federal Schedule I list of drugs.”
Citizens can report sight obstructions to city
On Feb. 25-26, the Tahlequah Fire Department responded to motor vehicle accidents at South Muskogee Avenue and South Street, and since that time, a few citizens have expressed concern about the sight lines at the intersection.
A visit to the intersection showed that, for traffic westbound on South, the view south down Muskogee is partially obstructed by shrubbery and a tree that appear to be on private property.
Spears: OSRC should help boost business
In a little over 25 years, Arrowhead Resort owner Jack Spears has grown his business from being the smallest float operator on the Illinois River to the second-largest, and he’d like to continue on that path.
Spears believes tourism is vital to the Tahlequah area. He says if the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission would eliminate a zoning issue along the river, both the agency and his own business would reap the benefits.
Spears recently asked the OSRC to consider doing away with recreational floating zones. Commercial flotation device licenses are granted to operators in each area for a total of 3,900 licenses.
Last-place swine earns top sale bid
Local businessmen drew regional attention through a record-setting bid of $10,000 at the Cherokee County Spring Livestock Show last Saturday, but now they say they don’t want the recognition.
The annual show, which ends with a premium sale featuring top winners, is a fundraiser for local FFA and 4-H participants. Proceeds help cover the animals’ expenses or are used for future projects or showings. Community members, organizations and businesses bid on the livestock, but it is not a purchase. The children showing get to keep their animals.
Hulbert man involved in standoff didn’t own illegal guns
Further investigation into the Friday standoff between a Hulbert man and law enforcement has not yet produced any weapons charges.
A search warrant executed after the incident uncovered several firearms inside the trailer in which Michael Wyatt Earp, 42, was living. Law enforcement officers and agents were concerned that some weapons were fully automatic.
Police arrest suspect in hit-and-runs
A vandalism complaint to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department led to the arrest of a man by Tahlequah Police Department officers on Sunday.
Gary D. Martin, 30, faces multiple charges after his arrest outside Jimmy’s Egg on South Muskogee Avenue.
County not responsible for U.S. highways
A noticeable difference between conditions on U.S. Highway 62 on either side of the Cherokee-Muskogee county line in the wake of this week’s winter weather has local residents asking why they’re getting the short end of the stick.
The Daily Press has received queries from readers about the procedures followed in Cherokee County to clear roads. Some speculated Cherokee County commissioners may have been slower to respond than their counterparts to the southwest, but the county isn’t responsible for maintaining U.S. highways.
River zones source of contention for some
Thirty years ago, the recreation business on the Illinois River was limited to small, generally mom-and-pop operations that had a few canoes and a pickup truck as inventory.
Today, float operations can generate a healthy income, and operators have hundreds of rafts, canoes and kayaks, as well as trailers and buses to transport boats and people.
The Illinois River is one of three designated scenic streams in the state, and the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission’s mission is to protect the environmental quality of those rivers.
Recently, Jack Spears, owner of one of the largest float operations on the river, asked the OSRC to consider doing away with recreational floating zones. Commercial flotation device licenses are granted to operators in each area for a total of 3,900 licenses.
New e-cigarette ordinance mulled at Tahlequah council meeting
Though no vote was taken, most of Monday’s meeting of the Tahlequah City Council centered on discussion of a new ordinance that would prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices on city property.
A similar ordinance was read at an October meeting of the council, but did not receive a second reading at any subsequent meeting due to general opposition, and concern about the language.
The new Ordinance No. 1216-2014 received its first reading Monday. An ordinance must be read at two meetings before it can go to council vote.
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- The bear facts