California: Protect Your Driver License Privacy

A bill sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk would order the DMV to start issuing “Enhanced Driver Licenses” (EDL) with an RFID chip that could expose information about you from up to 30 feet away. And this EDL can also be a REAL ID (in case you thought that REAL ID was dead).

Let’s bring S.B. 249 to a screeching halt. Email Gov. Brown today that he should veto this invasive bill.

Up until the last few days of the legislative session, S.B. 249’s EDL program would have prohibited companies from requiring their employees to get EDLs or discriminating against those who did not or refused to get them. The bill’s authors had accepted a number of technological protections as well.

But at the 11th hour, the California legislature stripped nearly all the privacy protections. The feeble security that remains is a DMV-issued card sleeve that you’d have to keep your EDL in all the time. That’s not exactly comforting.

Now, a bill that was specifically intended to help residents and workers who cross the border on a regular basis would apply to the entire state regardless of whether you need to enter Mexico. While S.B. 249 wouldn’t eliminate ordinary, non-chipped DLs right away, we expect the state DMV will push for everyone to get EDLs eventually.

Supporters argue that since the RFID contains a randomly assigned unique ID number (and not your name, address, etc.) that you don’t need to worry. However, every time you remove an EDL from a sleeve it is an opportunity for a third party to associate you with that number. Whenever you’re carded at the liquor store or asked to show your ID for a credit card purchase, it is a potential breach of your RFID number, opening the door for you to be tracked.

Tell Gov. Brown to protect your privacy and reject S.B. 249.