Transit Sam

Dear Transit Sam,

My daughter’s driver’s license is coming up for renewal soon.  I understand that a new face photo recognition system is now in place.  My concern, in addition to privacy and identity theft issues, is where is this information going to be sent or stored or how will the information be used?  Do you have any idea who is doing this for DMV?

John via e-mail, Lower Manhattan

Dear John,

Yes I do.  DMV has a unit called the Division of Field Investigation, which is comprised of sworn law enforcement personnel that operate the technology. Here’s how it works:

When applying for a New York driver’s license or renewing the old one with a new photo, image (facial) measurements are captured and used to create an algorithm. The system then makes an analysis looking for a specific code match against the 16 million plus photos stored in a secure database as well as a one-to-one search based on an individual’s previous photo. This helps prevent fraud and identity theft. Since its inception in February of this year, there have been more than 2,000 fraudulent document cases, including one individual who had four illegal licenses and was also on the federal “no-fly” list.

The DMV does not share your personal information, which is also protected by the Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA).  The DPPA only allows the distribution of personal information under very specific circumstances. While identity theft is more prevalent across the country than ever before, the number of reported cases in New York State has actually gone down. So John, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I believe the system in place will continue to help make identity theft even less prevalent.

Transit Sam

Dear readers,

Adding to the gridlock this holiday season is the 24/7 closure of one lane on northbound West St., just a few blocks south of Canal St. In addition, Canal St. is also in the process of being resurfaced. The Canal St. approach to the Holland Tunnel via a right turn on West St. has been the more favorable approach since the Hudson St. entrance was closed about two and a half months ago. The lane closure on West St. will last till at least the end of May 2011. This makes Broome St. the best approach which is terrible to begin with. So, you can only imagine how bad the others are.

Transit Sam

Have a question about upcoming Gridlock Alert Days, transit problems, parking tickets, or to get my new parking calendar? Send me an e-mail at TransitSam@downtownexpress.com or write to Transit Sam, 611 Broadway, Suite 415, New York, NY 10012. Happy holidays!Dear