ACLU Asks Motor Vehicle Administrators Not to Turn Driver's Licenses Into a National ID

February 11, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union told the nation’s motor vehicle administrators Sunday that their plan to standardize and unify the nation’s driver’s licenses would inevitably become a national ID system that would gravely threaten Americans’ privacy without making our society any safer.

“ID cards won’t prevent terrorism,” ACLU Associate Director Barry Steinhardt said in a speech before the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. “At best, an identification card simply confirms that you are who you say you are. At worst, an ID card will serve as proof of a false identity that will lull us into a false sense of security.”

“An identity card is only as good as the information that establishes a person’s identity in the first place. Birth certificates and Social Security cards can both be forged, bought, or stolen,” Steinhardt said. “It does not make sense to build a national identification system on a faulty foundation, particularly when possession of an ID card would give a terrorist a free pass to avoid heightened security measures.”

Steinhardt also told the motor vehicle administrators that their plan would have negative social consequences. “We believe that you will be creating a standard not just for driver’s licenses, but for the collection of personal information,” he said. “And once that standard is in place, it will be the ideal tool for organizing all the new data that is being gathered on individuals because of the tremendous explosion in computer technology of recent years.”

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