New York issues hybrid driver's licenses

New York has become the second state to begin issuing hybrid driver’s licenses that also serve as official identification cards at U.S. border crossing points.

New York's enhanced licenses, which have a radio frequency identification chip, are being issued in cooperation with the Homeland Security Department in anticipation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which goes into effect in June 2009.

Washington state and British Columbia in Canada began offering hybrid driver's licenses in January. Officials in Arizona, Vermont, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have said they intend to produce similar cards.

The RFID tag on the New York license will transmit a reference number to readers that will record all crossings. To protect the cardholder’s privacy, border patrol agents must match the reference number to an entry in a secure DHS database before obtaining personal information on the cardholder, according to a news release from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

The New York licenses also display a U.S. flag icon and a machine-readable zone. They cost $30 more than standard licenses.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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