2/21/2012US Representative Seeks to Pull Spy Chips from Drivers Licenses
Congressman and Michigan legislature upset over federal requirement for radio frequency ID chips in enhanced drivers licenses.
At least one congressman and an entire state legislature want to put an end to the federal government's drive toward embedding spy chips in the driver's licenses of every American. US Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) earlier this month wrote Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to undo her 2009 regulatory mandate that states implant radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in in new "enhanced" licenses.
"I am deeply concerned about the privacy implications of mandatory RFIDs in driver's licenses," Amash wrote. "The chips would give public and private entities an unprecedented ability to track Americans. RFIDs can be read using widely available technology, including technology contained in mobile phones, which increases the risk of identity theft. Furthermore, if RFIDs were to become ubiquitous, there is little doubt that private entities would deploy new technology to capture the chips' data."
Amash has the support of the entire Michigan state legislature. State House Transportation Committee Chairman Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) introduced a resolution in 2009 calling on Congress, the president and DHS to undo the RFID mandates. It also questioned the wisdom of sharing of drivers' personal information with Canada and Mexico, as required under the White House Travel Initiative. The "enhanced driver's license" with tracking technology is meant to ease travel across these borders by automobile. Though enhanced licenses are currently voluntary, the only other option for individuals wishing to drive to Canada is obtaining a passport, which also contains an RFID chip. Opsommer's measure passed the state House and Senate unanimously.
"For the federal government to now say that you have to have a RFID chip in your driver license in order to prove you are a United States citizen is an outrage," Opsommer said in a statement. "These licenses essentially assign a new national ID number to citizens that can then be read through wallets, purses, and walls by anyone who is willing to spend $50 at Radio Shack. The first time you show your license at one of the big box stores they'll be able to associate you with that number. That sounds like something out of China, not the United States."
The enhanced license program goes further than the controversial DHS Real ID requirements. To obtain an enhanced license, one must provide: (1) a Social Security card or W2; (2) a certified birth certificate with a raised seal or a valid passport; (3) an out-of-state driver's license or government ID card; and (4) proof of state residency.