The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) has been pushing the talking point that they can’t get access to your personal banking account or credit card account through the use of their renegade asset forfeiture program called ERAD. They further imply that the people who are talking about how the OHP might have been able to take your money were spouting propaganda, one assumes, in an attempt to discredit the ERAD program.
I, along with most people who gave a detailed accounting of how the program worked, tended to take the OHP at their word that they couldn’t gain access to your bank or credit card account; they could only gain access to the money stored on the prepaid credit/debit network card. The ACLU of Oklahoma points out that, while technically true, it is only because the company that provided the ERAD system couldn’t provide that information for them. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) tried to get this access, but the company that provided the system informed them that it would be illegal without a court order.
However, buried deep in the 199-page contract, a section shows that DPS officials explicitly asked the ERAD Group, a Ft. Worth, Texas, company to provide a means of accessing individual “banking information (account number, routing number)” and for the ability to freeze or seize the money in the account.
I don’t know about you, but this certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence that the Oklahoma Highway Patrol isn’t trying to push for totalitarian control over anyone that happens to pass through this state, not to mention the residents that make their home here.
Fortunately, it this seems to be such an egregious program that it isn’t a partisan issue.
Cory Williams (D-Stillwater) said:
Several state lawmakers have called on DPS to stop using the card readers. In a media statement, state Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, likened the use of the system to government robbery.
“This is deplorable,” Williams said. “The State of Oklahoma is allowing the OHP to swipe money from a card even if the trooper has no solid proof that the money in the card holder’s account was acquired illegally. The government is robbing its people.”
And Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) said:
State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said the card reader program was a dangerous, unconstitutional tool. Loveless said the fact that DPS officials initially sought access to banking information shows the program was just another method to take money.
“We’ve seen this time and time again,” Loveless said. “Now we see they were trying to get that type of information. This shows this isn’t about identity theft, drugs, or crime or ISIS, it’s just another method to take innocent people’s property.”
Hopefully this disastrous situation will gain enough attention from the Oklahoma people that it can be stopped before it becomes truly embedded in the culture of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Mr. Brady Henerson of the Oklahoma ACLU said:
Brady Henderson, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said Thompson and others weren’t telling the whole story about the ERAD contract.
“The only reason they didn’t get access to personal banking information was that the company told them ‘no,’” Henderson said.
It is too dangerous to leave such technology in the hands of people who have to be told by a company that they aren’t allowed to break the law.