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California chooses security over convenience for new licenses

California chooses security over convenience for new licenses
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California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last week that would have allowed the state's driver's licenses to include radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. The bill's purpose was to speed crossings at the U.S./Mexico border, but the idea of including RFID chips in driver's licenses was alarming to privacy advocates and cybersecurity experts.

The American Civil Liberties Union warned that the proposed law could link one's criminal background records to their license. Thanks to RFID, police could scan licenses at a distance, "potentially letting police officers know someone's race, citizenship status, and criminal history before coming into contact with that person."

The security angle is even more frightening. Hackers could read the RFID chips from a distance and gather someone's personal information from the enhanced driver's licenses. We've told you about the dangers of RFID chips in credit cards, a move credit card companies made so you can make contact-less purchases. Check out our RFID-blocking products that keep hackers from snatching your information at a distance.

The RFID-chipped California licenses would have been voluntary, like those in Washington, New York, Michigan and Vermont, but Gov. Brown vetoed the measure anyway. He said he didn't want to add to the Department of Motor Vehicles' workload when there were other ways to speed the border crossings. By vetoing the bill, he also kept Californians' personal privacy that much more secure.

Do you agree with this decision? If RFID-chipped licenses were available, would you get one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Source: Ars Technica
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