Update – Bill 85 (Photo Card Act)

It looks like Ontario has managed to do what politicians in the UK have been struggling to accomplish for years. This morning the Liberal government of Ontario passed Bill 85, the Photo Card Act, which will see updates to the identity documents that Ontarians typically carry on their persons. While the UK government has been stymied at every turn by no2id when they’ve attempted to roll out a sophisticated identify card, the coalition and advocacy groups in Ontario that have opposed the inception of drivers licenses that contain biometric data and radio frequency identifiers (RFIDs) have been less successful. While the Conservatives had been expected to speak against the bill, this did not, in fact, happen. My money is that the politics didn’t cash out to oppose it.

I’ll post updates as they arrive, and be putting together a post-mordum report in a few days.

Update 1: CTV has an article discussing the EDLs

Short Thought Concerning Enhanced Drivers Licenses

A colleague of mine asked that I write a short post that summarizes the issue and my concerns with the Enhanced Drivers Licenses that Ontario is proposing to implement in the near future. Per his request, I’ll writing this.

Beginning July 1, 2009, the American government will require Canadians and Americans who enter the United States through its land borders to carry either a passport or an ‘enhanced’ identity document. The Ontario government, in response, is preparing to pass Bill 85 – Photo Card Act, which will see the government offer these identity documents to the Ontario public. These identity documents are required to contain a radio frequency identification chip that emits a unique number whenever it is within range of a reader, raising deep concerns surrounding mass surveillance of North American populations. Researchers have consistently proven that the anemic protections suggested by the government, such as placing the identity document in a radio-blocking sleeve, to be relatively ineffective in blocking the interception of the radio’s unique identifier. Further, advocacy groups have noted that it is relatively inexpensive to purchase a reader, raising concerns that non-government bodies and individuals can capture this unique identifier.

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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). Continue reading