Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/02/2010 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 190-BIOMETRIC INFORMATION FOR ID 9:01:22 AM CHAIR MENARD announced the first order of business to come before the committee would be SB 190. SENATOR BILL WIELECHOWSKI, sponsor of SB 190, said the purpose of SB 190 is to update an existing law, passed unanimously in 2004, to protect our privacy rights. The existing law outlaws the collection, analysis or storage of a law-abiding person's genetic information or DNA without his or her written consent. Advances in DNA technology have been of benefit to society, medicine and law enforcement but also hold the potential for misuse. DNA is now only one form of biometric information and emerging technologies further threaten our privacy rights. Physiological characteristics, unique to an individual, can be used to obtain information about people without consent. For example, facial recognition technology can track a person anywhere they go. He pointed out that Great Britain has cameras set up and tracks citizens all over the country; most Alaskans would find that offensive. Senator Wielechowski said he was motivated to sponsor SB 190 after being approached by an individual who was refused admittance to the state accountancy licensing exam because he refused to submit to fingerprinting. This man offered his driver's license, social security card and passport but was told this was insufficient identification. 9:04:33 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said it is offensive to treat law-abiding, privacy-loving Alaskans like criminals. Once scanned, fingerprint data is often handed over to private data management firms, some of which sell personal data sourced from multiple public and private databases. Adding only "fingerprints" to the existing law protecting our DNA, would still allow companies to collect retinal scan information, facial characteristic information or other private data. Thus, the term "biometric" was used in drafting the law. CHAIR MENARD said she understood that some of the data management firms are in Europe or East Asia. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI replied that is correct. SENATOR FRENCH asked how the practice of taking photographs is differentiated from unauthorized collection of biometric information. 9:07:16 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said a facial biometric system is made up of three components: a camera, a software program that recognizes face geometry such as placement of the eyes and nose and a system capable of classifying all those elements to differentiate between people. 9:08:23 AM CHAIR MENARD opened public testimony. JASON GIAIMO, representing himself, said two years ago he went to take the final part of the CPA exam. He was refused entrance due to a lack of proper identification, even though he presented his driver's license, passport and more. Only fingerprints, in addition to other ID, were sufficient. Through research, he found the fingerprints would have gone into a database that is transmitted over the internet to a foreign data-mining firm called Choice Point. Choice Point is the largest supplier of information to over 7,000 different companies including the IRS, FBI and Department of Homeland Security. He said big business is masquerading as security. 9:12:25 AM BRENDA NATION, American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), said the ACIL's first concern is the broad definition of biometric information particularly in Version P on page 3, lines 3-4: "an individual's unique behavioral and physiological characteristics". She said ACLI does not understand how to comply with this broad definition when collecting information about a person wanting to purchase life or long-term care insurance. Life insurers are required under federal and state privacy laws and regulations to obtain written consent from an individual before obtaining their personal, non-public health information. Those regulations include prohibitions on disclosure and business exceptions that allow ACLI to serve their customers. Exceptions are also found in the current statutory definition of DNA analysis which allows life insurers and others to collect and retain certain information to serve customers. She said ACLI's second major concern is that under AS 18.13.010(c), and SB 190, a person is allowed to revoke their written consent at any time. She said what information SB 190 protects or does not is unclear. For example, would the information included in a person's health history, held by a doctor, be considered biometric information? Without the ability for the insurer and the doctor to share information, paying a long-term care claim could be problematic. 9:16:18 AM Similarly, should a person revoke his consent, an insurance issuer would not know what information is biometric and should be removed from the file, making it difficult to comply with the law. She said she provided two suggested amendments to Senator Wielechowski regarding the definition of biometric information that would alleviate ACLI's concerns with SB 190. SENATOR PASKVAN said he expected that an insurance provider tracks a member with a plan number and a participant number rather than with biometric information. He asked Ms. Nation what she means by using biometric information to track a person in relation to a payment for a medical procedure. MS. NATION said ACLI members do not use things like fingerprints, hand geometry, voice recognition, facial recognition or retinal scans. ACLI's concern with the definition of biometric information is the piece that reads, "information that is based on an individual's unique behavioral or physiological characteristics". The language is so broad that it could potentially encompass other health information. CHAIR MENARD asked Senator Wielechowski if he feels the definition of "biometric information" is too broad. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said the intent of SB 190 is not to exclude necessary health insurance information but to protect people's personal, private information against current and future technologies. 9:20:03 AM He said he would not object to taking "behavioral and physiological characteristics" out of SB 190 if the committee is concerned about the interpretation of those words. SENATOR PASKVAN suggested that the assembly of data by others and collecting that information scientifically or by computer is the troubling aspect. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI reiterated that the intent of SB 190 is to protect Alaskan's privacy and new technologies must be considered. He said removing "behavioral and physiological characteristics including" out of SB 190 might solve any problems. He said he is happy to work with Senator Paskvan and Senator Menard's offices and the insurance industry. 9:23:12 AM CHAIR MENARD opened public testimony. JEFFREY MITTMAN, Executive Director, ACLU, said ACLU is generally supportive of the SB 190. ACLU has one concern: On page 2, lines 11-12 of SB 190 would amend AS 18.13.010(b)(6) to read "for background checks as permitted or required by state statute or by federal statute or regulation". ACLU's concern is that that exception is so broad that it completely encompasses the rule. ACLU hopes to work with Senator Wielechowski or the drafter to ensure that necessary checks are allowed but not against an individual's consent or knowledge. If such a revision were made, ACLU would fully support SB 190. 9:26:02 AM CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony. CHAIR MENARD announced she would hold SB 190 in committee to clear up some of the questions that were discussed.