Nix State-Led National ID Plan, Coalition Urges Bush
By Brian Krebs, Newsbytes
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A.,
12 Feb 2002, 9:09 AM CST
A broad coalition of more than three-dozen civil liberties, consumer and privacy rights groups urged President George W. Bush on Monday to oppose a state-led plan to establish a national identification system. The groups assailed a plan by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators that would allow local and federal authorities to share information on identity card applicants and to equip ID cards with technology that ties them to their owners’ unique physical characteristics or preferences.
The plan announced last month also would allow DMVs to share identity card applications with the Social Security Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the FBI to help weed out identity thieves, scofflaws, suspected terrorists and non-citizens who overstay their welcome.
The AAMVA eschews the term “national ID” to describe its proposal, and notes that is only trying to pool information that states already possess. Opponents of the plan say it would lead to a de facto national ID program with “an unparalleled system of personal information sharing.”
“The creation of a national ID card or system is a misplaced, superficial ‘quick fix’ to the terrorist threat,” wrote the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Common Ground, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and nearly 40 other groups.
The groups charge that an identity card is only as good as the information that establishes identity in the first place, such as birth certificates and Social Security numbers. If those documents can be forged with ease, then the AAMVA’s plan would create a false sense of security, because it would enable individuals with an ID to avoid heightened security measures.
Instead, the groups urged President Bush to follow the lead of the House Transportation Appropriations report, which encourages the department to study and define "the types of encoded data that should be placed on drivers' licenses for security purposes, and to work in concert with the states toward early implementation of such measures."
“These guidelines could be the first step toward federal involvement in the standardization of state drivers' licenses and the implementation of a national ID,” the groups wrote. “We urge you to make recommendations that would provide the states with a series of security options rather than one uniform standard that could lead to a national ID.”
The AAMVA request calls on Congress to draft legislation authorizing the plan, which the states estimate could cost between $75 million and $100 million.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is currently working on a bill to implement the proposal. House Government Reform Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Horn, R-Calif., also has introduced legislation that would establish an independent commission to study the issue.
Several states – including California, Colorado, Texas and Georgia – already have begun using biometric identifiers on state-issued identity cards, and a bill to enact such measures was recently introduced in the Virginia legislature. In addition, West Virginia's DMV soon will begin a pilot project using facial recognition technology to match an applicant’s personal information with digital photos already on file.
A copy of the letter is on the Web at: http://www.epic.org/privacy/id_cards...tr2.11.02.html
Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com
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