Oklahoma Reverses Decision on Card Readers

After weeks of criticism from civil asset forfeiture reform advocates, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has suspended the controversial card reader program that gave law enforcement the ability to seize Oklahomans’ electronic funds.

Writing for Fox News, Cristina Corbin explains that card readers are being utilized in at least 25 states, and they have been developed to electronically seize money from prepaid debit cards, which drug dealers or other criminals sometimes use to hide financial activity. Yet Corbin further notes that card readers leave all prepaid debit card users at risk of having their money seized by law enforcement, whether for legitimate reasons or not.

Although supporters of the program claim that the scanners are an important tool to disrupt the illegal drug trade in Oklahoma and fight identity theft, critics have been worried about the profit incentive for law enforcement, as well as the makers of the scanners who receive a percentage of all assets seized.

Corbin quotes Oklahoma State Senator Kyle Loveless, who supports the suspension of such devices until “we know exactly what the full capabilities of these devices are.”  Although Oklahoma could revive the card reader program in the future, the suspension is a victory for everyone concerned about abuses that arise from civil asset forfeiture.

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