New Michigan Driver’s License Threatens Privacy

RFID in Michigan Driver's Licenses

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan has issued a new action alert opposing Michigan Enhanced Driver’s License.

According to the ACLU, border crossings from Michigan into Canada will require travelers to show a passport, a WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) passcard, or a Michigan Enhanced Driver’s License–all three of which include Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips that can hold an unknown amount of personal information and can be read from up to a football field away. Over the years, RFID chips have been criticized for the ease at which they can be abused.

The ACLU writes:

Although this is a frightening concept, what’s more concerning is that the new Michigan Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) would have an unencrypted RFID chip that will contain a new unique citizen ID number with no legal guidelines for its use. Because this RFID chip is unencrypted, it can be read wirelessly by anyone with a reader through a wallet and even walls, at distances of 30 feet.

The chips are included through an agreement between Michigan and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In Canada, the use of RFID has been criticized according to the ACLU:

Canada has already sounded the alarm bells regarding the use of RFID technology due to significant privacy concerns and the potential misuse of shared databases between the United States, Mexico and Canada. This past February, the City of Ottawa sent back one of their databases because of potential misuse. Saskatchewan scrapped the entire enhanced driver’s license (EDL) program altogether.

The ACLU is calling on Governor Jennifer Granholm to cancel the agreement and order a review of RFID use in Michigan’s driver’s licenses.