The future is now!: New identification for Canada/U.S. border.

Whenever some new government gadget comes out to enhance security and keep you even more safe, there always seems to be some catch that just keeps you that much more paranoid.

In recent months, several provinces in Canada have adopted to create and offer ‘enhanced driver’s licenses’ which will replace passports as a necessary piece of identication to cross the border in the U.S.  Before 9/11 and all the security enhancements that have been steadily increasing over the years, all you needed was your regular driver’s license to get across the border, and most likely your birth certificate in most cases.  But starting June 1, 2009 (two weeks), showing your passport will be mandatory, along with anybody who has an enhanced driver’s license.

 

New enhanced Ontario driver's license.  Actually, I can't tell if this is the new one or not.

New enhanced Ontario driver's license. Actually, I can't tell if this is the new one or not.

Now, when I heard of these licenses coming out a couple years ago, I thought it was a pretty good idea, until I heard how ‘enhanced’ they’re going to be, and just recently, how they’ll have a tiny radio transmitter embedded into them.

I just read an article on CBC.ca about the type of radio transmitter that will be placed into these licenses.  Read the article for the full deal, but basically there are two types of transmitters: close-range transmitters where you basically have to be holding it to get a signal (or say, beside the booth at the border crossing), or a longer-range transmitter that you can detect across a street for instance.  For some reason, the Canadian government opted to go for the longer distance, which is confusing to say the least, especially to the public.  The simple question being…. why?

Going back to how ‘enhanced’ these licenses are going to be, they intend to place on the card a great deal of personal information.  I don’t know what specifically, but I’m figuring a lot more than your birthday and address.  Now that’s fine with me, but if a government’s looking to protect it’s country from people slipping by their borders by putting more information on a drivers license that everntually everyone in this country is going to have, I think more measures should be taken to also protect the information on this card and making sure that this information stays on this card, except when needed by authorities.

That being said, there’s obviously no fooling on how much information we can shove into a tiny speck on a piece of plastic these days, so I fail to see the need for any type of transmitter to put your information at risk when a simple enhancement on a technology already in use would most likely be safer; I’m talking about the black stripe on the back of every card.  How come the government can’t introduce specialized card swipers only used by government officials which would be necessary to get the information off of your card.  That’s my two cents…

The one thing I like about these licenses is that they’re completely optional.  So until I see what goes down with these new licenses, I’m sticking with my tried and true passport which I have no problem carrying around only when I go to the border, unlike a drivers license that I’d have with me all the time, at risk of being scanned as I’m walking on a sidewalk.  I know, it’s unlikely, but until I hear an idea that’s sound, I’ll stick with what works.

For more information on the Ontario version of the enhanced driver’s license, go here.

 

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