Motor Vehicle Administrators Recommend Identification Card Standards
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If the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has their way, the good people running your local DMV will soon be responsible for a de facto national ID system.
 
The organization is seeking to institute a set of standard processes, procedures and formats for issuing driver licenses across the country. Calling the driver license "the most requested form of identification," on January 14, 2002, the organization's Special Task Force on Identification Security recommended an unprecedented program in which state DMV's would be able, through a common database, to share information on new license applicants with the Social Security Administration, Immigration & Naturalization Service, and FBI among other Federal agencies, to cut down on identity theft, and help authorities track wanted criminals, immigrants who overstay their visas or other evil-doers.
 
Separately, Congress has directed the Department of Transportation to recommend its own set of standards for a national ID card program.
 
In a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., AAMVA President Linda Lewis said," the terrorist attacks on September 11th brought to light a fact that we in the motor vehicle and law enforcement community have known for some time … that the state-issued driver’s license is more than a license to drive. It is the most widely used domestic document to prove a person’s identity."
Pressing the point of national security, Task Force Chair-person Betty Serian added at the press conference, "unscrupulous individuals shop for the easiest and fastest way to get a license. They find the loopholes. And those unscrupulous people put you and me at risk."
 
"Each state does it [issues IDs] differently. Each state has its own definition of residency. Each state varies the security features on its licenses. The U.S. has more than 200 different, valid forms of identification issued by states in circulation now. So how can a bank teller in Maine be expected to know what a California state driver’s license really looks like?" she continued.
 
The AAMVA is recommending inclusion of digital fingerprinting, face scanning and other biometric information encoded into bar codes or magnetic strips of every state issued ID card in the United States (there are also a number of Canadian DMV officials among the AAMVA membership). A number of states, including California and Georgia, already include some biometric information on their licenses.
Privacy advocates are concerned about how the information will be tracked and used. "Will the holder have to show the ID card to go through the Lincoln Tunnel? Will the date and time of each passage through the tunnel be recorded? Will that information then be stored in a centralized database for future use, if years later the holder is accused of committing a crime in New York on a particular date?," asked Philip L. Gordon, a Privacy Foundation fellow and attorney with the law firm Horowitz and Wake in a recent interview with Newsfactor.
 
To date, there has been no public discussion about the availability of information in this shared identification database to non-government-affiiated legal investigators.

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