JEFFERSON CITY - Accusations of deception were heard in the House Wednesday as one lawmaker suggested that a bill intended to protect privacy only masked a larger problem.
Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he was in support of a bill sponsored by Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, which would prevent the Missouri Department of Revenue from keeping copies of personally identifiable information from license offices.
However, Kelly warned that the lawmakers behind the bill were deceiving Missouri citizens.
“That this bill does an iota of good about property rights is a complete…deception,” Kelly said.
The third party used to print licenses under the new licensing system, MorphoTrust USA, formerly called L-1 Identity Solutions, is used by 46 other states for the same purposes. Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, voiced concern that the large amount of personal information sent to MorphoTrust made the company a target for hackers. He argued that the same was true for the Department of Revenue, where source documents are sent before moving on to the printer.
“There’s a treasure trove of personal data on American citizens sitting in a database somewhere in Atlanta, Ga.,” Barnes said. “If you had 47 golden eggs with personal information on nearly every American citizen, would you put all 47 of those eggs in the same basket?”
The Department of Revenue also came under fire in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday. Committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, threatened the Department of Motor Vehicle's budget in response to allegations that the department had agreed to comply with the REAL ID act and compromise citizens' privacy, although Brian Long, director of the Department of Revenue, denied compliance. State auditor Tom Schweich also announced he would be conducting an audit of the department.
A previous committee hearing heard concerns that the information would be sent on to the Department of Homeland Security and that information from conceal carry permits would allow the government to confiscate firearms. However, John Mollenkamp, deputy director of the Department of Revenue, said at the committee hearing that license pictures would be available to law enforcement but other information would be destroyed after the license was printed.
Kelly argued that the bill fails to address the larger privacy issue that has been facing Missouri for years. He said that the Department of Revenue has been able to sell private information obtained from licenses to at least 4700 entities in the private sector, including lawyers, insurance companies and tow truck dealers.
Passing the bill would be comparable to “nailing that sucker (loophole) shut and leaving the barn door wide open,” Kelly said.
This year Kelly sponsored a bill meant to close that door by stopping the Department of Revenue from selling personal information obtained from drivers’ records, as well as their Social Security number, telephone number and medical information, among other personal records.
“Nobody’s interested because the lobbyists want to keep selling it. If we’re interested in privacy we will block the sale,” Kelly said.
Kelly's bill is not currently scheduled for floor debate and has yet to leave committee.
Although Kelly voted to give preliminary approval to Richardson’s bill, he maintained that it did not merit any praise.
“This is all political nonsense,” Kelly said.
Richardson disagreed, saying that the new licensing system would make 1.6 to 1.7 million private documents vulnerable.
It “is not something I would characterize as tiny,” Richardson said.