February 16, 2006 2:04 PM PST

Driver's license or national ID card?

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Motor vehicle agencies must link their databases together, and perhaps implant chips in driver's licenses, as necessary steps to ease the way for a national ID card, the head of a group of motor vehicle officials said Thursday.

Technology that may be used for a national ID card could take the form of a chip loaded onto a driver's license, said Linda Lewis-Pickett, chief executive of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Lewis-Pickett was one of several panelists addressing the controversy over the National ID System, during the RSA Conference 2006 here.

"The DMV is in differing aspects of readiness and it would need to make a quantum leap to get to the point of issuing national ID cards," Lewis-Pickett said.

She added that the various states need to develop a method of interoperability to share information that could be used for a national ID system.

The panel unanimously agreed that a national ID system will fail to fight terrorism, one of the intents of the Real ID Act that passed last year and is slated to take affect in 2008.

The act will affect Americans in a number of ways, requiring a federally approved ID card to board an airplane, collect social security payments or use virtually any government service.

"We don?t have a field in the database system that will say you're an evildoer," said Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security.

A national ID system may create other security concerns beyond an inability to fight terrorism, the panelists noted, pointing to potential exploitation of the information in the database, as well as to commercial harvesting of information every time a national ID card is used.

"This is a rules problem, not a technology problem. We need rules on who has access to the information," said James Lewis, senior fellow and director of technology and public policy for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank with close ties to the military.

The process for issuing the cards is another area that requires great scrutiny, the panelists warned.

"It doesn't matter how good the card is if the issuance process is flawed," Schneier said.

A national ID card may soon find itself used for other purposes than verifying credentials of Americans, the panelists warned.

The issue of "function creep" could arise, much like it has with the use of driver's licenses, said Paul Kocher, president and chief scientist of Cryptography Research. He noted that driver's licenses are used for more than just verifying the ability of a person to drive a car--they're also used as a form of ID when writing a check and as a way to verify that a person is old enough to drink alcohol.

Lawmakers are already keenly aware that secondary uses may be found for the card, as companies seek to commercialize the data gathered when cards are used. California lawmakers, for example, floated a bill to put restrictions on use of identification devices in all state-issued ID documents.

Lewis noted that 100 countries currently use a national ID card and that this hasn't been a deterrent to identity theft in those nations. Panelists also pointed out that Europe has tougher laws restricting the use of data brokering.

See more CNET content tagged:
ID card, driver's license, terrorism, form, California


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
GL identity
We need a standardized Drivers license across the USA Would eliminate a lot of problems,Just make it a national permit card with data for all the things a citizen is licensed to operate or do.
Posted by alligatorman (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Yea, then...
The next thing we should do is require everyone to register all their guns by going door to door and doing searches of property without warrants. After that, we should also require everyone to register their computers and set up a national censor office to keep people from saying things against the government and to filter the information available on the internet on a national basis. While we're at it, let's set up "Green Zones" where we phase out the human population in those zones. Oh, and one more thing, let's require the national I.D. chip to contain all the information about who is licensed to buy and sell goods for gain in what locations so that cities can get there "sales tax" cut of others' work.

I have just one question. Where did my country go?
Posted by Shoa_Creek (79 comments )
Link Flag
Some people DO NOT get it...
This has NOTHING to do with "drivers-licenses".

This is about a National-ID-card, and giving the government, AND businesses, the ability to track EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN.

It is merely being attached to "drivers-licenses" to FORCE most people into accepting it. This IS the national BIOMETRIC-database that corrupt politicians, with TOTALITARIAN-DREAMS, have been drooling over for decades, ...even though it is a CLEAR VIOLATION of the Constitution.

Basically, these are the state-issued papers that you will HAVE TO carry, merely to walk down a public-street, or conduct ANY commercial transaction, what-so-ever.

In other words, we will be effectively tagged like cattle, and have to carry an "internal-passport', ...or else.

This is a VIOLATION of every Americans BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. And, I for one will NEVER have one, ...whatever the consequences.

Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Naional ID
and everyone will be asigned a number without which they will be ????????? It has been a while since I've read the last book in the Bible.
Posted by jake_n (19 comments )
Link Flag
You're one of those people
Just another conspiracy theorist with no knowledge of the constitution, spouting off about protections it doesn't have. How, praytell, is this a violation of "human rights" (not something accorded in the constitution)? I imagine you're trying to say that its a violation of the 4th amendment - right to privacy. Sorry bub, that won't fly.

I'm just gonna it very simple. This is legal and here is why: 1) State law permits mandatory identification in order to use state services (that'd be your Driver's license or Identification Card), 2) The supreme court has ruled consistently that Federal Law, if constitutional, supercedes State laws, 3) This would be just such a thing. No need for a constitutional amendment, simple Federal legislation would allow this to be implemented. Oh and wouldn't you know, it has been!!!
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Link Flag
Foolish $$$ Aristos
More waste of taxpayers dollars, as it wont work. The only people who would like this are the reality 'TV' show Aristos making exorbitant amounts of money off of privacy invasion and state run mind control.

Just use the Internet and keep it legal or at least free by going to www.eff.com and setting STANDARDS like with free software and fair licensing. If the hardware and software is open source then they cant spy on us at least easily. If hardware or software is closed then we dont know what's in it and we dont actually own it.
Check out what Sun is doing with their UltraSpark T1 chip as they are open sourcing it under the GPL thank goodness.
Nano-tech will never work with out open sourcing it. To invasive.
Open source Nanotech to set standards on it!
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The US got it all wrong
PhotoIDs for identification purposes and on-line authentication keys have entirely different use-cases and rely on different technologies (plastic versus silicon). It is a bad idea to put them in the same "container" as a card has no place to go in standard PCs and in mobile devices. Never will either.

Effectively we are also talking about $50 in added cost by not using mobbile phones as carriers for authentication keys.

The phones may at the same time support multiple IDs and different authentication technlogies. A card usually only supports a single ID and authentication technology.

Words to remember: TPM, NFC and WI-FI. These things pulverize cards as authenticators.
Posted by (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: The US got it all wrong
So do we mandate that all US citizens have mobile phones? Believe it or not, lots of people, myself included, don't have or want a mobile phone. Had one once but didn't like paying fees to be on a leash...
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
One card, one country. The Federal ID Card
The Real ID Card might be a snag for individuals that use a vacation home address as their primary address to take advantage of out of state traffic violations (Nonresident Violator) and to send their subpoenas on vacation (out-of-state subpoena process). Paranoiacs might be more afraid of federal databases on the account of a federal ID. However, in addition to an improvement on our system of personal identification, most will find it offers convenience, practicality and provides increased identity security for travel and business.
Posted by rtaggert (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.