California’s new driver’s license RFID chips are on the way, even though they’ve been suspended for now.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips have already been implemented in drivers licenses in Michigan, New York, Vermont, and Washington to keep tabs on drivers, as the plan has been to replace the need for passports entirely. Yes, the government is spying on you through your wallet, or has plans to do so.
Although the RFID chip implementation in California’s new driver’s licenses was already approved by the California Senate, and will most likely be reintroduced before the year is out, the plans have been abruptly dropped for now. The S.B. 397 legislation was suspended after protests from privacy groups, but it won’t likely be down long.
RFID chips are already being used in various cards you might already have in your wallet, and will eventually replace bar codes on everyday goods you regularly buy. As for the latter, it does make sense as a security measure, so shoplifters will be easier to locate if they try to get away with more expensive goods. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a step forward.
Privacy groups fear that California‘s new driver’s license RFID chip plan would eventually escalate to a point where the government is tracking the movements of its citizens at all times. On the other hand, that could also mean that the crime rate could be eliminated almost entirely as escaped convicts and fugitives could no longer run from the law as easily as ducking under a bridge. They will now have an electronic signature attached to their ID that can be traced anywhere they go.
Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of California, disagrees with the positive aspects, as she says:
“An individual that does not understand the privacy and security risks of an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) might think, ‘Why not get [one] so that I can use it to drive and also cross the border?’ It seems like common sense. But the cost to privacy and security far outweighs any benefits. If you carry one of these licenses in your wallet or purse, you can be tracked and stalked without your knowledge or consent.”
There are two sides to the coin, but California’s new driver’s license RFID chip idea is expected to be put into motion. We might as well embrace the positives of what could be inevitable.