As I noted a few days ago, the Saskatchewan government is debating whether or not they want to implement EDLs given the privacy and financial risks that accompany the licenses. It seems as though the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is supporting this hesitancy, with the assistant privacy commissioner;
. . . is applauding the province’s decision to back away from the enhanced licences until legislation addresses concerns about how personal information is used and how vulnerable it is to hackers.
“It’s highly significant,” Bernier said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “The province seems to come to the conclusion … that the cost-benefit analysis is not convincing.” (Source)
It will be interesting to see whether or not Saskatchewan reintroduces EDL legislation after Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner manages to implement an ‘on/off’ switch that she has been talking about with Jesse Brown for the past few weeks. My suspicion is that they will, but that they will let Ontario do the heavy lifting in this area (I expect that Ontario’s influence with DHS will be more substantial than Saskatchewan, but maybe that isn’t/won’t be the case).
Some interesting news coming out of Saskatchewan: the government is looking to put the brakes on Enhanced Drivers License (EDLs). While headlines are saying that this is dominantly because of privacy concerns, I think that cost is probably a deeper reason for turning away these licenses. Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff is on record saying:
The criteria from homeland security has been changing. The costs have been increasing and if they go to a point where it just doesn’t make sense anymore then we’re not going to move forward. (Source)
It seems as though costs have risen from $50 – $80 dollars, without a clear sign of that stopping. Cost (financial and political) really seems to be the force keeping these licenses out of the hands of the public.
This being said, I should be fair and point out that the Privacy Commissioner of Saskatchewan hasn’t received the Privacy Impact Assessment from Sask. Government Insurance (Source). The Commissioner wasn’t outright opposed to the EDLs, and is instead suggesting that the province look to its neighbors for ways of tweaking the Bill 72 legislation.To me, this suggests looking to BC and Ontario. I don’t know exactly what the consequences of this kind of ‘tweaking’ would be, especially given how limited those governments incorporated suggested privacy protections, but it would be nice to see documents that really put the Commissioner’s cards (and desired changes) on the table. Seems like a FOI moment….
There has been discussion that Enhanced Drivers Licenses are really a ‘gateway document’ towards implementing a continental identity management system. The Department of Homeland Security’s new secretary, Janet Napolitano, is an outspoken critic of the Real ID program. There has been wide speculation about what her position would be concerning Real ID now that she is running the department that was pushing Real ID. We’re now starting to see her position come out:
Enhanced driver’s licenses give confidence that the person holding the card is the person who is supposed to be holding the card, and it’s less elaborate than Real ID. (Source)
As long as states are running the databases, rather than there being a central federal database, she’s willing to get behind EDLs. While it’s good that the DHS is retreating from a full-scale deployment of Real ID, I’m not so sure that shifting to EDLs is a ‘solution’ to the privacy issues that are discussed surrounding the RFIDs in EDLs.
The Canadian Press is reporting that the EDL database that was part of the Phase 1 Trial of the BC EDL program is coming home. Specifically, they write,
The database with details about several hundred British Columbians was turned over to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency last year as part of a controversial project to issue “enhanced driver’s licences” instead of passports for land border crossings. (Source)
What strikes me as interesting/weird about this is that under Phase 1 of the BC EDL program no Canadian data was turned over to the American authorities! This was revealed in the BC EDL Phase 1 Post Implementation Review (Redacted), for which I’ve provided a ‘best hits’ document. Only in Phase 2 was any data sharing to actually start happening, and it was last November (’08) that Ottawa totally dropped plans to locate the Canadian EDL database in the US. This seems to suggest one of two things about the Canadian Press’ article: Continue reading