Three National Privacy Experts to Address Arizona Legislators on Privacy Issues Related to REAL ID, RFID Tags

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
March 12, 2008 12:00 am

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PHOENIX – Three nationally-recognized privacy experts will be in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13 to speak to legislators and members of the public about the privacy implications of everything from REAL ID and national identity cards to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and enhanced driver’s licenses.

Katherine Albrecht, RFID and Consumer Privacy Expert, Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and Noam Biale, Advocacy Coordinator for the National ACLU Technology and Liberty Program, will address legislators at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 13 during the Public Safety and Human Services Committee hearing at the Arizona State Senate, 1700 W. Washington. Prior to the committee hearing, the three experts will meet with legislators to share their concerns about the need to promote more responsible uses of technology during a breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. in Rooms 35 and 38 in the basement of the House of Representatives.

In addition, all three guests will be the featured speakers at an ACLU-AZ town hall meeting entitled: “From REAL ID to RFID: An ACLU Town Hall on Threats to Privacy.” The free town hall meeting will specifically focus on the civil liberties implications of tagging Arizona driver’s licenses with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and creating the nation’s first-ever de facto national identity card system through REAL ID.

The town hall meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 13 at the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix Biomedical Campus, Virginia G. Piper Auditorium, 600 E. Van Buren Street, in downtown Phoenix. Free parking is available off 7th Street, between Van Buren and Fillmore. The event is free and open to the public.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act essentially transforms driver’s licenses into federal identity papers. The Act creates a 50-state database of critical personal information – such as Social Security numbers, photos and copies of birth certificates – that could expose Arizonans to identity theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. In fact, Arizona has topped the Federal Trade Commission’s list of states with the most identity-theft complaints for several years in a row now. The Arizona Department of Transportation has estimated that the full implementation of the REAL ID Act will cost Arizona more than $60 million.

In December, the ACLU criticized Governor Janet Napolitano for entering into an agreement with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement the enhanced driver’s licenses with the RFID tags. The ACLU argues the privacy risks posed by new RFID driver’s licenses are significant, especially considering the controversial chips can be read from up to 30 feet away and the information stored on them can be accessed by touching the chip with an inexpensive handheld electronic reader. Even if the personal data, including name, home address, date of birth and social security number, is linked to a key or unique identifying number, it can still be accessed by people who can do serious harm.

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