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US privacy advocates want federal government to slow its roll on mobile driver licenses

US privacy advocates want federal government to slow its roll on mobile driver licenses
 

Who lit the fire under the U.S. Transportation Security Administration? That’s what four prominent civil liberties organizations want to know.

The TSA, which is responsible for many facets of travel in the country, this summer posted a request for comment on proposed new rules for physical and mobile driver licenses.

Officials are considering a change to REAL ID regulations dealing with mobile driver licenses. The long-delayed REAL ID rules do not go into effect until May 2025.

REAL ID guidelines require that licenses carry a common core of bearer data formatted in the same way to make it easier to spot a forgery. The law setting this up also requires standardization of data displayed in a mobile license.

TSA officials say they might temporarily waive, on a state-by-state basis, the requirements for mobile driver licenses.

Comments on the plans so far were due October 16. Among those responding to that idea were the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Electronic Privacy Information Center.

They collaborated on a response: “We ask: what’s the hurry?”

It’s not like there’s a swell of appetite among citizens for mobile driver licenses. In fact, the opposite likely is true. Some states are fighting REAL ID and that’s just a new design for cards.

Timing in this case is not precisely the issue for the civil liberties groups.

It’s relevant in that privacy rules are not yet anywhere near complete enough, says the quartet. For the most part, what few mobile driver license rules exist in the U.S. boil down to fuzzy instructions to check with the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which owns TSA.

There is an ISO standard that applies, but the quartet say it “leaves major open questions.”

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