By on September 4, 2013

watching you uncle sam poster Big Brother 1984 Orwellian

Wired.com is reporting that the state of California has abruptly tabled legislation that might have allowed RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips to be embedded into the state’s drivers’ licenses. Privacy activists are hailing the suspension of this plan as a victory against government intrusion in people’s lives and believe that these chips, which are actually tiny radio transceivers that can be accessed over the open airwaves without the consent of the person carrying the document, will eventually be used to track people’s movements without their knowledge. Currently, three states, Michigan, Vermont and Washington, already have RFID chips in their licenses and are already sharing information collected by the DMV, including basic identity data and photos, with the Department of Homeland Security via a national database. Scary, right?

To understand what the Department of Homeland Security is doing with this data, you need to know that since June 1, 2009 the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) has required that a passport be used to cross our Northern and Southern borders. Prior to that time, any US citizen could drive to Canada or Mexico and, on the return leg of their trip, present themselves to US Immigration officials back at the border crossing with nothing more than their good looks and their American accent as proof of US citizenship. The men and women who manned the ports of entry interviewed everyone who presented themselves, maybe looked at their ID (which is not proof of citizenship), and then made a decision about whether or not to let the person in. WHTI sought to change all that by ensuring that people who traveled abroad, even on a simple day trip to Toronto, would do so with actual verified proof of citizenship in their pocket in the form of a US passport.

States all along our Northern and Southern borders reacted with fear and suspicion. To people on the border, the ability to go across the river to go shopping, visit friends, go to church or even have your kids participate in high school sporting events is a given and people naturally worried about the ramifications of getting and holding a passport. They complained to their congressmen and it was decided that the best solution was to allow border states to issue their own border crossing cards. Most states decided that the simplest way to do this was to use the pre-existing infrastructure of the State Department of Licensing and thus, the “Enhanced Driver’s License” was born.

A ample Washington Driver's license issued to "Mary Jane?"  WTF are they smoking up there?

A Washington Driver’s License Issued to “Mary Jane?” WTF are they smoking up there?

Although we generally think of our government as one solid ill-tempered blob of bureaucracy, the truth is that for the most part the various agencies you share your information with do their very best to protect your privacy. Generally, unless there is some kind of special pre-existing agreement between bureaus or a court order, the various parts of government will not share your information with one another. This desire to protect your privacy is especially pronounced across the State and Federal lines. The IRS, for example can’t look at your birth certificate. The DMV can’t see your military records, etc. This also means that Immigration Officials don’t have access to State DMV records and, in order for the state issued border crossing cards to work on the Federally protected border, the various states in the program must share the information they collect with Immigration via a shared database.

Anyone who works with databases knows that the way you draw up information on a person is by entering their information. Naturally, when you have a line 1000 cars long, you don’t want your immigration officer trying to enter the data by hand and, to get around this, most enhanced drivers’ licenses have a “machine readable” code printed on the back of them that more or less matches what you would find on the bottom of your passport’s data page. As this part of the document is swept through a code reader, it automatically populates the data fields on the officer’s computer. The search is run and, if everything looks right, you are good to go after just a few questions.

San-Ysidro-BorderCrossing

Technology has continued to advance, however, and in the past few years the old machine readable system has been upgraded to include RFID technology. International treaties have been signed and RFID technology has been incorporated into passports worldwide. It also appears in border crossing cards like Nexus and the US Department of State’s own Passport Card. The payoff has been shorter wait times at the border and today people who hold RFID enhanced crossing cards can cross via special lanes that expedite the process by allowing the Immigration Officer manning the booth to pull up your information prior to your arrival at the window. The process is simple, you just pull your card out of its protective sleeve, wave it at the card reader at the head of the lane as you pass by and then present it to the official when you arrive at the window. With your data and photo already in front of him, the Immigration Officer gives you the once over, conducts the interview and sends you on your way.

Of course the fact that you are carrying around a radio transmitter that is capable of broadcasting your vital information all over the magnetosphere has some people worried. Anyone with the right equipment, they say, can steal your data as you walk down the street. The truth is, however, somewhat different than the popular perception. First, your border crossing card does not actually have personal information encoded on their chips. They are instead encoded with a number that refers back to the database I mentioned at the top of the article. Without access to the database, the number is meaningless.

0412speed1

But the cops can track you by that number when you drive by, right? Probably not. Most cards come with a foil impregnated sleeve that, assuming you faithfully keep your card in it, actually stops the transmission of even that small amount of data. Passport books, by the way, do actually have your data and photo encoded on their chips – the same information shown on the photo page of the book – but the cover of the book is foil lined in order to prevent transmission while the book is closed and the chip used has a much weaker signal. This weak signal, incidentally, is why the new passport books are not included among those documents allowed in the express lanes at the border.

So there it is, the actual truth about what is going on via the RFID chip in your pocket and what the chip in the new California driver’s license would have done as well. Of course, privacy advocates are concerned that the system could be abused, that certain parts of the government could track your movements through the card in your wallet the same way that they can track your movements via the cellular signal from the phone in your pocket or via your license plate through plate readers mounted on so many police cars these days or by computer enhanced photo recognition software linked through surveillance cameras located in public places or through all the metadata stuck to the photos you post on Facebook or by – well you get the point. Vulnerabilities are everywhere and each one is yet another chance for someone, maybe a criminal with a transmitter and a computer, the police, Big Brother, et al, to get into your pocket and into your personal business.

I see both sides of this argument. Every day brings new news about just how far the government is delving into our lives. They, or at least their computer programs, are listening to and recording our telephone conversations, they are sifting through our emails, the post office is photographing all the envelopes we mail, my car is recording my driving habits on a black box and the TSA is x-raying my luggage and laughing about the size of my dong every time I go through the scanner at the airport.

"I think I see it there behind that other thing."

“I think I see it there behind that other thing.”

So what? I want that quicker trip across the border and, even though it is more intrusive than a lot of what we are subjected to, I also want that shorter line at the airport that I get because they are scanning my nutsack rather than groping it. It seems to me that the advantages of having an RFID chip in my enhanced license would outweigh the liability, especially since I can prevent any problems by using a sleeve or one of those metal lined wallets they are selling these days for just this purpose. You may say that I am trading my freedom for security, but I think otherwise. I am bearing a slight intrusion for the sake of convenience. That’s what the future is supposed to be isn’t it? A slicker, cleaner place where I am not bothered with all the minutiae of daily life. The only thing government surveillance is going to find out about me is what everyone on TTAC already knows, I’m a dull, fat, middle-aged man who owns a minivan. Ho-hum.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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57 Comments on “RFID Enhanced Driver’s Licenses: Big Brother Or Brighter Future?...”


  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I guess I was just born without the paranoia gene that seems so rampant these days. I don’t care if Big Brother is watching me. He will be bored out of his mind if he is. I have absolutely NOTHING to hide, I just want to spend as little of my life waiting in line as possible. Implant the chip in my head if it speeds things up!

    • 0 avatar
      cartunez

      You are just naive to make a statement like that. Besides you might not have anything to hide but what if you are charged? Defending yourself cost money but I am sure you have plenty funds to defend yourself from a abusive and out of control government. It always makes me laugh when people say they have nothing to hide. I can guarantee you that if law and or code enforcement descended on you they would find something.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        What would I be charged WITH, exactly? The government (ooh, scary) has MUCH better things to do than worry about my boring butt. There are over 300 MILLION people in this country, bound to be at least 150 million of them that are of more interest to the government than me. I go to work, I pay my taxes, I play with cars. I haven’t even gotten a speeding ticket in nearly a decade. Google has FAR more information on me than Washington does, in all likelihood.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “The government (ooh, scary) has MUCH better things to do than worry about my boring butt.”

          Apparently, the officials don’t agree with you, since they’re the ones who are pushing for more surveillance technology.

          In any case, they’re not watching you individually. It’s actually worse that that — they gather copious amounts of data about the public at large, crunch that information through software, then use it to identify those whose patterns seem suspicious. Profiling on steroids.

          The electronic age allows them to be far more proactive. You had better hope that your behavior doesn’t correspond to a pattern identified by an algorithm.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            This. Pattern research and incorporation are the only sexy topics guaranteed a few more years of lavish DHS funding after reorgs denude the operations side.

            Unless this Syrian thing really goes south and re-energizes the baddies over there, patterns for identifying domestic actors offer the greatest hope to the senior cohort of retired military that wish to double-dip on the gov for another 5-10 years.

            Naturally, it all diffuses down to state and local.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          You don’t have to be charged with a crime to be abused by your footprint in databases. A conflict with an ex, a neighbor or a local pol who has access to that data could result in embarrassing revelations about you. Do you spend time in bars and drive home after? Do you break the speed limit (even if you’re not ticketed)? What are you spending your money on? I agree that most of us would never become interesting to the authorities but without strict restrictions on access to these databases anyone with an axe to grind can target you for abuse. What do you think might happen if you start rocking the boat in your town, pissing off the mayor and police chief?

      • 0 avatar
        mr.cranky

        @cartunez- Don’t be so paranoid!

        You’re acting like the government is suddenly going to flag you in a database and send shock troops to your door, just for making a trip across the border.

        This form of paranoia is unhealthy and possibly an indicator of poor mental health.

        Besides, there are ways to fight should you be stuck in such a situation, which is still highly unlikely.

        And why is this paranoia more rampant among gun owners? Are they trying to hide their little militias or something?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        This “they might use this to get you” argument is so bogus. Govt has been abusing people’s rights for centuries w/no RFID chips, and govt is already pretty much watching our every move now; yet has not swooped in to abuse everyone’s rights wholesale. The reality is the avg citizen is not that significant and really does have nothing to worry about as far as the govt swooping in. It is more beneficial for TPTB to maintain the status quo than to start locking (non-brown/black) people up for no reason.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      But you should care, its no business of the government where you go and what you do no matter how many crimes it may prevent or how law abiding you may be.

      If you opt in of your own free will that’s fine, we obviously do this every day with conveniences like a smart phone or an EZ Pass or making your presence known on the internet ( http://lifehacker.com/just-delete-me-is-a-massive-list-of-links-to-close-all-1245040101 – interesting the amount of access anybody has on you ) but nobody should be able to do that without your express approval. Especially that most paranoid of entities the federal government.

      • 0 avatar
        mr.cranky

        @raph- We already consent by paying taxes, paying for driver’s licenses and sending our kids to public schools.

        Unless you’re willing to opt-out of all of that stuff and move your family to a cave, you are still consenting in a way.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          If there weren’t Government monopolies in place in these areas, opting for your own alternatives would be much easier, cost effective, and popular.

          • 0 avatar
            kkt

            The government is in those areas because private alternatives did not work. Driver’s licenses governed by the free market would be even more of a breathing test than they already are. Voluntary taxes did not go over so well. Public schools get all the cultures in the country to mix and help break down negative stereotypes, as well as letting even disadvantaged kids grow up to make something of themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Voluntary taxes are user fees, and they would certainly keep those collecting them more accountable if they were actually voluntary. By saying they “didn’t work”, you probably mean “not everyone wanted to give money for causes that I think are important”.

            If the melting pot is the greatest achievement if public schools, I’m not sure there’s much argument to be made that they’re a better educational choice. I will agree that giving those that can’t afford it some semblance of education is a good thing.

            As for driver’s licenses, they don’t do much as it is besides creating a joinder to a legal entity that they can extort money from. The public already has protection from the really bad behavior on the road in the form of real laws.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      The three favorite phrases of totalitarians are:

      1 – “The law is the law.”
      2 – “I’m just doing my job.”
      3 – “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

      Thank you so very much for enabling number three.

      • 0 avatar
        mr.cranky

        What’s the alternative then?

        Anarchy?

        And we’ve seen what happens when states “take back” control from the Feds. How are those gravel roads, Texans?

        • 0 avatar
          OneAlpha

          Why do criticisms of creeping statism always bring out the, “So you must want anarchy, then!” assertions?

          Totalitarianism and anarchy, as you know, are merely opposite ends of the spectrum.

          While there’s never been a period of the Mad Max-style anarchy I’m sure you’re alluding to, there is a tragic abundance of examples of overpowered governments doing whatever the hell they want, in the name of security and safety.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          “And we’ve seen what happens when states “take back” control from the Feds. How are those gravel roads, Texans?”

          You mean jobs being created instead of destroyed? Texas is pretty much a laughingstock these days, as long as you completely ignore reality.

        • 0 avatar
          tooloud10

          I live in a state with a lot of gravel roads. They work just fine in lesser-traveled rural areas. My state is also on track to have a billion dollar budget surplus this year. Gosh, I wonder if things like that are related?

        • 0 avatar
          Tinker

          What”gravel” roads? Even Texas’ FM (Farm to Market) or RR (Ranch Roads) are in better shape than New York’s State Highways. Hell even County Roads beat that, in my experience.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      Someone needs to learn the difference between “privacy” and “secrecy”. Long story short–it doesn’t matter whether I have anything to hide; the government does not have the right to look.

      The REAL problem hasn’t even happened yet–the key word being “metadata”, which they’re collecting at all times. When we get to the point that the government has info on everything you do every day filed away on a hard drive, it’s trivially simple for them to find “crimes” that you’ve committed, along with thousands of other people.

      Should they use this information one day to, say, issue a speeding ticket to every driver that’s ever exceeded the limit? What about charging for other crimes that a person has left evidence of, like drugs? The answer is irrelevant, because once they have all the information on all of the people all of the time, the whole system becomes a witch hunt of citizens whose only real crime is pissing off the wrong person.

      Anyway, it’s coming, and it’s closer than you think. You’re either already upset or you’re not paying attention, but “I have nothing to hide” is about the most disgusting phrase I can think of. Hand over your own freedom to your captors if you like, but leave the rest of us out of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        // but “I have nothing to hide” is about the most disgusting phrase I can think of.

        Sounds like you have something to hide.

        But even us clean-livers need to be concerned about the metadata in the hands of local picobrains. I’ve been around federal senior mangers enough to trust their integrity. I also know that their deepest, most basic instinct ahead of patriotism, family and football is, when anything smelling even slightly of privacy invasion comes up, to “wait on this till we check with legal”.

        It’s giving that power to snoop and identify to cowboy locals that would worry me.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          “Sounds like you have something to hide.”

          And this is how it starts. Doesn’t take much for this to snowball does it.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Is it absolutely inconceivable that he really does, and that’s the reason for his vehemence against those of us who remain open and untroubled about this issue?

            Just a “doth protest too much” observation.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          @Kenmore

          I have nothing to hide (haha, written by someone with a screen name), but I like a little privacy when going to the toilet.

          On a more serious note, I know a psychiatrist who works with some scary patients. He needs privacy to protect himself and family.

          A long time ago, I was acquainted with someone who worked at the DA’s office. She needed privacy and was given an unlisted phone number (I know, laughable by today’s standards).

          I think most of us want privacy from telemarketers so they don’t ambush us at dinner time (or anytime for that matter).

          Lastly, a little privacy preserves what’s left of our human dignity and can make living together a bit more civil.

          I’m not against conveniences like EZ-Pass or cell phones, but we need checks and balances. Note that the original proposal for RFID passports intentionally excluded the shielded cover. Independent security experts and activists saw the vulnerability (identity could be stolen at a distance) and they had to campaign hard for a shielded cover. Their concerns were initially dismissed. Among the conspiracy theorists, the thinking was that unshielded RFID passports would make it easy to sweep the area to ID terrorists.

          An honest and legitimate sentiment to be sure, but the larger question is “how did we get here?”

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I have a NEXUS card because I thought it would speed things up. However, many days, the NEXUS line is as long or longer than the regular lines and travellers are being subjected to the exact same interrogation process. So what did I get this card for? I subjected my identity to an FBI buttsearch for an $80 fee, and all I got was a stupid card that sets off the security alarms at some Wal Marts.

    The issue here is how our borders are fundamentally run. Treating each of your own citizens as criminals until proven innocent isn’t what I had in mind when I was ensured that I was living in a Free Country. It isn’t as easy to prove or convince them as many of you “nothing to hide” folks might think.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      When i was in Australia earlier this year I was amazed at their line for Australian or New Zealanders. It was like a combination subway turn style and u-scan. They placed their passport on a scanner that read it and it allowed them to walk through just like a subway pass. There was a customs agent supervising the whole thing making sure the pictures that showed up on their screen matched the people that were walking through. Usually no words were even exchanged. Absolutely awesome. Even the foreign lines I had to go through were very pleasant an welcoming. A huge difference from the power trippers here. (Although there is one very nice lady that works the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, the exception and not the rule unfortunately)

      • 0 avatar

        I liked the customs agent in the Neatherlands, walk up to the customs agent hand passport doesn’t even look at it just stamps it says have fun same thing for everyone on the flight.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Such a freer and more reasonable spirit in the Netherlands.

          Any wonder Schiphol is the didee-bomber’s first choice?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Once when I was flying out of Schiphol, I asked the airport security dude (who was about 6’47″) whether it was necessary to take off my shoes.

            He looked at me as if I was asking him whether I could crap on the rug. “We have to take our shoes off in the States,” I helpfully explained.

            He snorts at me, “You Americans are paranoid.”

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        A few years ago my wife and I took the ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia. Clearing customs going into Canada took two minutes and the agent was pretty laid back.

        When we returned, the US agent took issue with our being married but not having the same last name on our passports, then started asking me questions about why I had a Germanic last name but “didn’t look very German” to him. When I explained that was because I was adopted, he became irritated — I guess he thought I was being smart with him.

        The whole experience was mildly humiliating — obviously not to the level of a TSA groping, but was there a point to that or was it just intimidation? It made me want to turn around and go back to Canada on the next boat just the same.

        As to data collection, it’s not about whether I have something to hide, it’s whether some algorithm or person will look at my data and see things that aren’t there, and then dutifully pass my name to someone who is on a power trip and/or trying to fill a quota who sees only what the report says s/he should see.

        I don’t fear the data itself, or that it’s increasingly detailed. I fear the reliance on and the misapplication of the modeling that underpins what is done with it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    A US passport already has an RFID chip.

    A US passport card, which may be used for entering at a land border, also has an RFID chip.

    The feds are already issuing travel documents in this format. I can’t think of a compelling need for the state to join them.

    It’s pretty obvious that the RFID-equipped licenses would eventually become mandatory. Combine those with license plate readers and facial recognition technology, and you won’t be able to scratch your backside without someone being able to know it. No thanks.

  • avatar

    The future is basically the watched vs. the overseers.

    They don’t have enough people to watch everyone, but computers, facial recognition technology and digital records make up for that.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I honestly don’t see the need to watch everyone, I mean I know this is TPTB’s wet dream for decades but its totally unnecessary. Some person or faction threatens your power, you deal with it on a case-by-case basis with your intelligentsia.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    As usual Thomas ;

    You hit the nail right on the head , witness the paranoiacs coming out of the woodworks already .

    Me , I just wear a double tin foil beanie so they can’t see me ! Nyah Nyah Big Gubmint =8-) .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    Does anyone know what the legal amount of stored porn is???

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Except there IS no advantage to RFID vs swiping the card: The border agent is still going to look at you, look at the ID, etc. The extra 10 seconds is irrelevant.

    And if you DO have an RFID block (which passports are supposed to have built in), you’re going to have to take out the RFID card anyway…

    The only value of RFID vs machine-readable with the physical card is for someone to read that data without your consent.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      We got the enhanced drivers licence here in BC shortly after it was mandated that you needed a passport to enter the US via land border. The big sell on it here was that the RFID was more secure in that it was harder to counterfeit/falsify the cards. Most drivers licences have pretty BS security features compared to passports, so I always thought this made sense. It was mainly put in for frequent border crossers who didn’t hold/couldn’t afford passports for their family.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    It is impossible to be too paranoid when it comes to government – and
    commercial – surveillance of you/us. You may think you are innocent
    and of no interest to the government, but you might just have the
    same name as a suspected terrorist/criminal and here comes the “law”
    to lock you up. Or maybe an old classmate has a grudge against you.
    You never know. Read J.J. Luna’s book “How to be Invisible” and be governed accordingly.

  • avatar
    7402

    It is laughable that anyone who posts on an internet web site (like this one) imagines that they have not sacrificed their privacy and done so voluntarily.

    Yeah, my loss of privacy frustrates me, and I resist whenever I can, but I have no illusion that I will prevail.

    At this point your best privacy play is to delete all your social media accounts, especially those like facebook where photo tags contribute to making your face easily recognized.

    Oh, yeah, and stop posting on the internet.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I have no problem with any of this. It’s just a case of advancing technology and the ability to use it. Wouldn’t you?

    I guess the Indians in the old American west were really ticked at the loss of their privacy when the army was alerted by telegraph and the cavalry arrived just in time to thwart an attack or catch them just after one before they got away!

    I take advantage of most high-tech when I have to, but I’m not a tech-nerd, insisting on every new gadget – the cost is too high.

    As to internet sites, TTAC, Curbside Classic and LinkedIn are the only sites I frequent and actually belong to. Nevertheless, my electronic footprint is out there.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I guess the Indians in the old American west were really ticked at the loss of their privacy when the army was alerted by telegraph and the cavalry arrived just in time to thwart an attack or catch them just after one before they got away!”

      I’m quite sure the natives were quite pissed at the loss of many things at the hands of the US Government, the least of which being their privacy.

  • avatar
    Onus

    I think the point is moot. Russia already has all my information in its computer system when i got my Visa. I saw the immigration officer pull me up on their computer. Can’t get any worse than that don’t ya think?

    Good thing is they don’t ask you a Ton of dumb questions. Coming back home either is Stupid easy or a PITA. Other countries its allways stupid easy. Plus you don’t have to fill out a bunch of stupid customs forms, confirm you werent of a farm, not carrying more than 10,000 in cash ( this is a issue in other countries but they never ask so who’s gonna tell? On a side note carry that much is asking for something ).

    On a side note its not bad. Think of a country like Russia where if you move you HAVE to register with Federal Migration Services and in the past it has been used it to restrict movement, housing, etc. Just look on the bright side.

    I have a passport card, and book. The card is in my wallet with the sleeve. Its come in handy a few times. I used it for my job instead of having 5,000 different things. Also works as federal identification since my license does not conform to Real ID. But, new ones in my state do.

    Most countries have national identification. Which honestly makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      ” not carrying more than 10,000 in cash ( this is a issue in other countries but they never ask so who’s gonna tell? On a side note carry that much is asking for something)”

      No, it’s not asking for anything. If it weren’t such a BFD, I’d do it often. Whenever I buy cars cross border, in fact. So instead I have to resort to carrying less, then get a wire transfer or cash advance once I’m in. It’s a royal PITA, but easier than trying to prove to a room of screaming bullies in vests and guns that my money is in fact my own. Can you tell I’ve been there?

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Good point. I’ve never considered buying a car cross boarder. Since its a PITA to import a car into the US.

        I can imagine the big deal it is to have to explain that you are not a drug dealer and you are not laundering cash.

        Though i can’t think of any reason you would want to launder cash into the us. But i digress.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          It’s actually very easy to import a vehicle into the US, from Canada anyway. I’ve exported many vehicles with no hassle at all. As long as they’re EPA compliant (if it was sold in North America in the last 20 years, it almost certainly is), it’s a breeze.

          From the US into Canada, the barriers in the form of fees and non value added BS are annoying and costly. 13% tax on the value right there at the border, and they WILL call you a liar about the value. $100 A/C excise tax. Green Levy from $1-4000 if it’s under a certain fuel mileage rating, $200 Registrar of Imported Vehicles fee plus inspection and DRL installation.

  • avatar
    George B

    Thomas, you misstate how RFID works. “Of course the fact that you are carrying around a radio transmitter that is capable of broadcasting your vital information all over the magnetosphere has some people worried.” There is no transmitter or power source in the enhanced drivers license. Instead, the RFID requires a nearby transmitter to transmit RF energy to the card. To transmit energy back, RFID in the enhanced drivers has to modulate the small amount of RF energy reflected from the card. The range of this data communication is inherently short. Think inches and feet, not miles.

    In contrast, all cell phones have actual transmitters both to connect to the cellular network and to connect to bluetooth devices. Collecting metadata about where a phone call or text originates, who one communicates with, and when one communicates is considerably more invasive than possibly reading a number associated with an enhanced drivers license.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The last image clearly is an American. Just look at that disgusting stomach. LOL. Seriously, cant the chip be destroyed by drilling a small hole in the license? I killed my office ID card accidentally that way….

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like a good way to invalidate it.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      A microwave oven will do too. And if you’re real careful, you can avoid scorch marks. Well, that was one suggestion when the initial passports contained the RFID chip without a shield. But as Thomas K. pointed out, the guard can rule the document invalid and deny you entry. But in practice, the passport becomes a traditional document where they have to match you to the photo.


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  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India