The Keystone State is pulling out of an insurance producer identification program sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Effective Feb. 17, the Pennsylvania insurance department stopped submitting digital fingerprints to the NAIC Digital Fingerprint Central Repository Pilot project, according to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken.

Koken discussed the move Feb. 17 in a letter to the Insurance Agents & Brokers of Pennsylvania.

Koken cites the “national and local debate surrounding the efficacy of this process” along with the ongoing debate about the NAIC Criminal History Record Model Act and congressional efforts to regulate NAIC access to the Criminal Justice Information Services Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Until there is greater consensus surrounding this issue, we are not prepared to continue to submit fingerprints to a repository and have ended our submissions effective today,” Koken writes.

The Pennsylvania IA&B has been backing a bill introduced by Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, R-Clifton Heights, Pa., chairman of the Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee, that would prohibit the department from transmitting producer fingerprint records to the NAIC pilot fingerprint repository.

The bill also would prohibit the department from keeping fingerprint records in any other state or national database. The bill has 32 co-sponsors, 15 of whom are members of the House Insurance Committee, according to the Pennsylvania IA&B.

The Pennsylvania IA&B is welcoming Koken’s decision to withdraw from the fingerprint depository.

“We commend Commissioner Koken for taking this action,” Pennsylvania IA&B Chairman John Collins says in a statement. “It demonstrates that she understands the importance of protecting producers’ privacy rights. Not only is this a matter of protecting members’ rights but is also a matter of guarding against a disturbing precedent.”

Regulators have been talking to insurers about whether a fingerprint repository should include the prints of company officers and directors as well as producers.

Regulators and insurers also have debated whether regulators should control the repository or share control with industry groups, and some have questioned whether there is any need for a fingerprint repository.

Wes Bissett, a senior vice president at the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Alexandria, Va., says a repository is unnecessary.

The NAIC never made a case for a central repository, and a better way to create uniformity would be to push for state reciprocity, Bissett says.