ACLU, Eagle Forum Call National ID Driver's Licenses Ineffective in Fight Against Terrorism

September 5, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and the conservative Eagle Forum today warned a House subcommittee that any attempt to standardize driver’s licenses nationally would be ineffective in fighting terrorism and would lead to a de facto national ID card system.

“The standardization of driver’s licenses would simply cement false identities onto a national ID.” said Katie Corrigan, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “A standardized driver’s license would be based on other underlying documents, documents that are as easy to fraudulently produce as high school fake IDs.”

Corrigan testified this morning at a hearing on driver’s license security issues at the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, chaired by Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI). Also represented were the Eagle Forum, the conservative advocacy group headed by Phyllis Schlafly, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators appeared in support of a standardization scheme, but prepared testimony from witnesses for the Council of State Governments and the National Council of State Legislators criticized federal proposals to preempt state control over driver’s license programs as “unnecessary” and “considerably less effective than state action.”

Critics of the AAMVA’s plan contend that any standardization of driver’s licenses would be perilously ineffective in preventing potential terrorists from obtaining what would become the “gold-standard” for personal identification. They also worry that by standardizing driver’s licenses nationwide, the federal government would be installing an internal passport that would threaten privacy and could be used by law enforcement as a pretext for racial or ethnic profiling.

The standardization proposal was championed last May by the Bush Administration, prompting the ACLU to warn that the government might be seeking to “dupe the American public by bringing forth a national ID scheme through a legislative back door.”

The ACLU’s testimony can be found at:

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