This spring it was uncovered that the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) had been collecting and scanning the private documents of Missouri residents who were seeking concealed carry permits or trying to renew an existing one. By January of 2013, the Missouri DOR had completed their installation of new computer equipment capable of scanning and recording this information. Previously the DOR had compiled an ongoing list of state concealed carry holders. The new process included electronic scanning of one’s personal identification documents—birth certificates, marriages licenses, passports, and concealed carry certificates—which were required to get concealed carry permits. It was also revealed that the Missouri Highway Patrol had twice asked the DOR for a list of concealed carry holders, and both times they were given that list.
The Missouri concealed carry holders list has the names of approximately 163,000 Missouri citizens. After using this list, the Highway Patrol then passed it on to the federal government. Some legislators believe that the DOR had been sending Missouri citizen information on to the federal government in compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005. There is speculation that this information could have been forwarded on to Morpho Trust USA. This is a Georgia-based company that specializes in gathering personal information for federal government agencies.
The Missouri Department of Revenue still maintains they only “intended to make licenses more secure.” However, they did admit to giving this information to the Highway Patrol as well as admitting to the scanning of personal documents, but they denied any attempt to implement the national Real ID Act. Missouri citizens need to go through state government agencies to get licenses and permits. These agencies, though, need to respect the individual right of privacy. Missouri state statutes make it clear that the collecting and scanning of personal information is illegal, and complying with any federal Real ID Act is also illegal. Personal information of Missouri citizens should be kept as private as possible and not casually made available to any other agencies or organizations, including the federal government.
To prevent such breaches from occurring again, the Missouri Legislature has passed two bills that will help safeguard the states’ citizens’ confidential information. First, SB 252 prohibits the Department of Revenue from scanning and retaining any source documents which are needed for approving licenses. Also, this bill will require the DOR to dispose of all the scans of personal documents they had previously made over the last several months. Furthermore, SB 252 will ban the DOR from collecting or using biometric data from facial and voice recognition technology. While this technology may be useful for tracking down terrorists, there is really no need to use these techniques on Missouri’s citizens.
Senate Bill 75 moves the responsibility for concealed carry permits from DOR to our state’s county sheriffs. County sheriffs, unlike the DOR bureaucrats, are directly responsible to the people of their counties. By decentralizing the concealed carry process another level of protection is placed between the citizens and those who would intrude upon their privacy.
An additional feature of SB 75 adds another background check—mental health records—through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is seen as the most comprehensive check available.
With today’s technology, it is more important than ever that we continue to do our best to protect the privacy and rights of Missouri’s citizens.