Saturday, January 16, 2016

Thumbprints don’t Belong in a Texas Notary’s Record Book.

Texas notaries are discouraged by the Secretary of State from collecting thumbprints in their journals and have been for several years.


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It's possible that I brought this to the attention of the Texas notary public administrators for the first time.  The topic jumped on my radar in October or November 2009 while I was reading the State Bar of Texas’s Magazine (September 2009 issue) and noticed a short blurb, which I’ve quoted below:

Retention of Biometric Identifiers
H.B. 3186, McCall (effective Sept. 1,2009) - H.B. 3186 amends Section 503.001 of the TBCC relating to the collection and use of biometric identifiers, which include fingerprints, voice prints, retina and iris scans, and records of hand or face geometry. Any disclosure of a biometric identifier made by or to a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose must be in response to a warrant. The amendment requires the biometric identifier to be destroyed within one year of the later of the date the purpose for collecting the identifier expires or the date any related instrument is no longer required to be maintained by law. An employer must destroy an employee's biometric identifier within one year after termination of employment.”  (From an article entitled Business Law by Darryl B. Robertson)

In February 2010, I wrote the Secretary of State and asked them if it was acceptable and quoted HB 3186. The reply I received was:

“Ms. Stone, thank you for your email…This raises an interesting question that I have not considered yet. I will have to get back to you. [Signed.]

I received another reply the same day.

“Ms. Stone, to answer your second question…Yes, as reinforced by HB 3186, our office discourages notaries from collecting thumbprints. If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.” [Emphasis added.][1]

The Secretary of State’s message is clear—don’t do it.

[1] Email regarding thumbprints in notary journals dated 2/25/10 from N. Hoang, Texas Secretary of State to B. Stone; N. Hoang copied her reply to B. Stone to L. Joseph, U. Jacob, and D. Overstreet, all of the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

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