Sep 29 2008

New York Begins Issuing RFID-Enabled “Enhanced” Driver’s Licenses

The state of New York has begun issuing (pdf) so-called “enhanced” driver’s licenses (or EDLs). These licenses contain RFID tags and include the individual’s citizenship status on the face of the cards. They are issued under the Department of Homeland Security’s “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative” and will be used as alternatives to passports for crossing the US border.

According to DHS, the “long-range” RFID tag would include a unique number that Customs and Border Protection would “read” as you drove up to the checkpoint and use that unique number to link to your individual name and file. (Such long-range tags can be read from a distance of 70 feet or more.) There are numerous privacy and civil liberty problems connected with using RFID tags in identification documents. Some EDL critics would surprise you: the RFID industry, the Government Accountability Office, and the DHS’s own Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.

The DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee urged (pdf) that long-range RFID only be used in ID documents if RFID is the “least intrusive means,” because there are significant privacy and security drawbacks.

The Government Accountability Office also has urged (pdf) against the use of RFID to track people, testifying that: Read More