Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mining drivers' licence databases raises privacy concerns

Yesterday's New York Times ran an interesting article on the increasing application of biometrics to drivers' licenses in the United States, and the collateral use of this technology. For example, photos from state databases are run against the rest of the database to identify those who have multiple licenses (to try to thwart a license suspension) or against photos of wanted felons. This practice has privacy advocates upset:

Driver’s License Emerges as Crime-Fighting Tool, but Privacy Advocates Worry - New York Times

“What is the D.M.V.?” asked Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a privacy advocate. “Does it license motor vehicles and drivers? Or is it really an identification arm of law enforcement?”

Anne L. Collins, the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles, said that people seeking a driver’s license at least implicitly consent to allowing their images to be used for other purposes.

“One of the things a driver’s license has become,” Ms. Collins said, “is evidence that you are who you say you are.”

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