Moran pushes 'smart' license

Noting that four Sept. 11 terrorists used fraudulent Virginia driver's licenses, Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) said this month that he wants states to adopt high-tech licenses that would make license counterfeiting and fraudulent applications much harder.

Moran said he plans to draft legislation in the next few weeks to push states to adopt "smart" driver's licenses.

An aide said Moran favors licenses that contain biometric identification chips. The chips would store digital fingerprints or an eye scan that would tie the license to the person to whom it was issued.

A smart driver's license also could make transactions such as credit card purchases more secure by providing positive identification for the cardholder, the aide said.

Moran said in a written statement that he would base his legislation on recommendations by the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank aligned with the Democratic Leadership Council.

In a Feb. 7 report, the institute urged Congress to require states to issue smart driver's licenses that contain biometric identifiers, digital signatures and extra chip space to be used for credit accounts, bank access data and benefits accounts.

That way, a driver's license could also serve as a highly secure credit card, bank card or Social Security card, said Shane Ham, a senior analyst at the institute.

The smart driver's licenses proposed by the PPI also could serve as a national identification card. Driver's license data would be stored by each state, and state databases could be linked, Ham said.

But privacy advocates decry the idea of a national ID card. They warn of government agents being able to track people by tracing their use of driver's licenses as identification when making purchases, renting cars and other activities.

Moran does not favor the creation of a national ID card, his aide said.

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