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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Is That You? Prove It!

Getting a Counterfeit Driver's License is Getting Tougher
Italian NIC
The Italian NIC, sporting an embedded IC, has the owner's fingerprint encoded in a memory strip.
Artist's rendering of a possible U.S. NIC
South American Marketing Inc., Bay Minette, AL
An artist's rendering of a possible U.S. national identification card (NIC). On the reverse is a smart chip that could contain sophisticated biometrics.
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By Lee J. Nelson
Contributing Editor

In addition to safeguarding data, uniform technology standards are vital to a domestic identification system. If every state continues employing its own methods to store and grant access to information, that could undermine a national biometrically enhanced program. Remember, too, that Americans long have depended on a driver's license as proof of their identity. How to keep the private sector abreast of the requisite hardware, technologies and consents for data access is significant and, as yet, undetermined.

Last October, President Bush signed the U.S. Patriot Act's Anti-Terrorism Bill, which was aimed at improving U.S. intelligence-gathering operations. The bill directs the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation to meet with the states' governors and motor vehicle administrators and formulate a single design standard for driver's licenses.

This could be a further step toward the national identification card. Proponents of a national ID say that standardization would reduce fraud and thwart terrorism. However, the legislation did not address the relative ease of obtaining a license, which is voluntary, optional and issued to both citizens and non-citizens. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (Arlington, VA) noted that the al-Qaeda terrorists relied on driver's licenses -- whether obtained legally or otherwise -- to fabricate their U.S. identities.

Perhaps we should be more concerned with an international identification system? At a United Nations (New York) meeting late last year, that idea was proposed. The plan would mandate fingerprinting every person in the world and logging the information into a universal scheme. To what extent a U.S. or worldwide identification plan is used and abused is still an open question.



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