Late last week, California governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill (PDF) to put radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in the state’s driver’s licenses. Although the option to get an RFID-enabled license would have been voluntary, wider acceptance of the chipped ID cards could lead to more situations in which the spy-friendly cards are expected, effectively making them mandatory.
The bill was proposed in order to automate and speed border crossing, specifically at the US/Mexico border, but privacy activists warned that it would lead to a much more insecure information landscape. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the law could have linked a person’s criminal background check to their driver’s license, “potentially letting police officers know someone’s race, citizenship status, and criminal history before coming into contact with that person.”
Washington, New York, Michigan, and Vermont all have a voluntary RFID-enabled license program. Private companies have been incorporating RFID chips to watch their employees too—even the NFL has been tracking player movements with the chips.