SACRAMENTO - The ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse support legislation introduced by Senator Joe Simitian of Northern California that would prohibit identity documents issued by the state, including driver's licenses and library cards, from containing a microchip that contains personal information.
"This is all about individual privacy, personal safety and financial security," said Senator Joe Simitian. "SB 682 ensures that state and local government will be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
The legislation was introduced days after a company in Sutter, California withdrew its pilot program from an elementary school amidst parents' concerns that their children were tagged like inventory. The school district introduced the mandatory use of Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFIDs) to track students' movements. The students were required to wear ID badges that included the device along with the student's name, photo, grade, school name, class year and the four-digit school ID number without parents' consent.
"We fully support this legislation that will protect families throughout California from having to go through what we did - seeing our children tagged like inventory or cattle," said Jeffrey and Michele Tatro, parents of a Sutter elementary student who had to wear the mandatory RFID.
The Identity Information Protection Act of 2005 (SB 682), would prohibit any identity document created by the state, county, or municipal government, from containing a "contactless integrated circuit" or any other device that can broadcast an individual's name, address, telephone number, date of birth, race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, photograph, fingerprint, social security number and any other unique personal identifier or number.
"The signals broadcast by this type of badge can be picked up by anyone with the technology to read it, which allows a child's identity and location to be pinpointed with ease. This does not increase security, it lessens it," said Pam Noles, a policy associate for the ACLU of Southern California. "In Sutter, these badges compromised the safety of the elementary school students and parents weren't even given the option to consent to their use."
Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, added: "Senator Simitian's bill provides vital protection for all Californians. Individuals who are required to carry government issued IDs should not be put in a situation where that document enables them to be monitored and tracked."