A strategy for making Texas safer was introduced Nov. 2 that features the use of embedded thumbprints in driver's licenses and facial recognition technology for weeding out fraudulent license applicants.

The technology would be used to apprehend individuals attempting to get more than one license or those using a false identity. The measures are part of the Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan 2005-2010 unveiled by Gov. Rick Perry, which also hopes to set up a Texas Fusion Center for statewide data collection for detecting potential risks. The plan additionally hopes to reduce "radio interoperability" to allow agencies to communicate effectively during a crisis.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has already awarded a five-year contract valued at nearly $30 million to Digimarc to create a driver's license with facial and thumbprint identification, the firm says.

Steve McCraw, director of the governor's homeland security office, said federal approval is necessary to compare fingerprints at the DPS with those in the federal Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification system.

Tela Mange with the DPS said police officers would be able to access the data only for enforcement purposes and might have to sign a memorandum of understanding or complete other steps to make sure the data is used appropriately.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the San Antonio Express-News (TX) (11/03/05); Fikac, Peggy .