Oct 242004
Authors: Jake Blumberg

The United States Congress wants to know what is in people’s


An amendment to the Senate’s intelligence bill, proposed by Sen.

Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has introduced to Congress a bill proposing

a uniform driver’s license.

This amendment, part of the recommendations from the 9/11

Commission, would standardize the requirements for driver’s

licenses nationwide.

The requirements for driver’s licenses vary from state to state,

said Jason King, spokesman for the American Association of Motor

Vehicle Administrators, a strong supporter of the uniform driver’s

license. Some of the variables include driving age, rules of the

road and required documentation for acquiring a license.

King said AAMVA feels this variation of requirements provides

loopholes for people trying to obtain a counterfeit or forged

driver’s license.

“Right now it is easy for a person to find the weakest link in

the system and obtain a new driver’s license, even if that person

has had a license revoked in another state,” King said.

Along with standardizing the requirements for obtaining a

license, the amendment would also require additional methods of

individual identification on the license itself.

“We need a technology to uniquely identify the individual,” King

said. “Probably some form of biometrics.”

Biometrics are physical forms of identification such as facial

imaging, voice recognition, iris and retina scanning or hand

geometry, all of which are candidates for the uniform driver’s

license. Additions such as this would require Congress to spend

more than $100 million on the new driver’s license technology,

according to www.cnn.com. The new program’s cost is one reason the

amendment has come under heavy opposition.

According to a speech on the ACLU Web site, Barry Steinhardt,

associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the

ACLU is skeptical of the uniform driver’s license because it is one

step closer to a national identification card. In the speech, which

was given to the AAMVA, Steinhardt expressed concern about the

legislation’s implications.

“Simply put, the creation of a uniform national driver’s license

is a de facto national ID card system,” Steinhardt said in the

speech transcript. “(The system) offers only the illusion of

security, while threatening our fundamental liberties.”

Steinhardt said the ACLU feels that a national identification

card would impede on Americans’ civil liberties by tracking

citizen’s actions and movement throughout the nation.

“Every time a police officer, security guard or store scans your

ID card with a pocket bar-code reader, it will create a permanent

record of that check, including the time and location,” Steinhardt

said. “The result will be a nation where citizens’ movements inside

their own country are monitored and recorded through these

‘internal passports.'”

If the legislation is passed through Congress, reforms would

begin at the local and state level to move toward the new form of


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