Abandoning Your Privacy, One Radio Wave, One Smile, at a Time

In a recent piece, “Tracking Your Every Move: ‘Enhancing’ Driver’s Licenses at the Cost of Privacy,” I noted that the proposed Ontario enhanced drivers license changes threaten to seriously diminish people’s privacy. These proposed licenses will include a small RFID chip that emits a unique identifier when brought into proximity of a reader – this number is not associated with any personally identifiable information that the provincial government holds, but does (per the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada) constitute personally identifiable information in its own right. The Commissioner’s office, in their whitepaper entitled “Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in the Workplace: Recommendations for Good Practices”:

An RFID tag containing a unique identifier has the potential to become a “proxy” for an individual when it becomes associated with that individual. In such circumstances, it will become personal information. This would be the case with an RFID-enabled identification badge or uniform. Location data gathered by scanning tags associated with individuals is also personal information (Source).

In addition to radio waves, which have the potential to be used to surreptitiously track individuals without their consent (which I talked about in my submission concerning Bill 85 to the Standing Committee on General Government of the Ontario Legislative Assembly of Ontario), these identity documents will have biometric data imprinted on them. While true that many nations have included biometric identification in their national identity cards, what is so significant in this case is that the Ontario government is absolutely ignoring the comments that are being put forth by the Canadian privacy commissioners, concerned members of the public, opposition parties, and advocacy groups. The absolute lack of attention, given to the potential hazards of the identity documents (especially the risks of data theft and subsequent identity theft) that are being proposed is of deep concern: Ontarians will, ultimately, need these travel documents (or a passport) to cross the border into the US. In light of the significance of these documents for travel purposes, as well as the risks entailed in producing an identity card that emits personally identifiable information without any security safeguards to prevent people from identifying the unique number, it behooves the government to more widely consult with members of the public.

If you want to learn more about the issue, feel free to visit the Ontarians Concerned With ‘Enhanced’ Drivers Licenses Facebook group, or the Canadian Identity Forum website. If you would like to address concerns to the Ontario minister of transportation, you can contact the Hon. James J. Bradley with the information below. Bill 85, the bill that will see these technologies embedded in drivers licenses, will be entering its third reading on Monday, so it’s critical that you contact either your MPP or (preferably) the minister of transportation directly.

Minister of Transportation
77 Wellesley St W, 3rd Flr, Ferguson Block
Toronto ON M7A 1Z8
Tel 416-327-9200
Fax 416-327-9188
Toll Free 1-800-268-4686
TTY 1-866-471-8929