Because there are no national standards for the information displayed on a driver”s license, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators is pushing for federal standards to increase security when obtaining the IDs.
A special Task Force on Identification Security has been created by the AAMVA to form minimum-security standards for driver”s licenses and photo IDs. These security standards, called for in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, have sparked controversy over rights.
Most states, including Michigan, require the date of birth, driver”s license number and the expiration date on licenses, but there is no legal standard across all 50 states. The unique identifiers to be used on the new drivers licenses have not yet been determined, but Michigan has already shown resistance toward any change.
“Michigan will take a very conservative approach to adding information to the driver”s license,” said Elizabeth Boyd, spokesperson for Secretary of State Candice Miller. “We have just recently upgraded our technology and we have a digital drivers license now and are in a good position.”
AAMVA chairwoman Betty Serian said the task force is working to develop security standards to regulate license information.
The AAMVA is a non-profit association representing chief motor vehicle administrators and law enforcement officials. The Task Force for Identification Security is broken down into four divisions: license issuance, citizenship, document security and technology.
This new short-term legislation has raised questions about the intention of these new standards, as they may be a shortcut to developing Federal ID Cards.
The right to privacy may be challenged by these IDs, which may require fingerprints or retinal scans as unique identifiers to cut down on underage drinking and financial fraud. There is also concern that the licenses will be used as minor tracking devices of the 184 million licensed drivers in the U.S.
As a tracking device it could assist officials by making them aware of suspected terrorists attempting to board planes, enter the country, or even use ATMs. But Serian said these worries are unfounded.
“There is no intention of tracking anybody and it is not about databases but the task force aims to take licenses for identification purposes and make them better,” she said.
Miller is calling for changes that would require those registering for driver”s licenses to be U.S. citizens.
“In response to (Sept. 11), Secretary Miller did call for changes in legal status in the country before receiving drivers licenses, as well as to require a background check for those applying to be commercial drivers of hazardous materials,” Boyd said.
These new measures are covered under the U.S. Patriot Act signed in October 2001. They will be implemented later this year.
Currently Michigan law prohibits the use of finger prints as an identification device.
If fingerprints become a unique identifier, it “would require a change in state law,” Boyd said.