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The Driving Illegals

It looks like I'm going to start blogging about election issues. Yikes. I'll try to ease into things a little tangentially, by commenting on the brouhaha surrounding the decisions of a few (seven?) states to issue driver's licenses without regard to immigration status. This is hugely unpopular:

The numbers break down to 88 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and even 68 percent of Democrats in opposition. [source]

I am, once again, in the extreme minority. I agree that there is a problem here, but it's not the one that most people would think of. The problem is that driver's licenses have accreted uses other than signaling that a person is able to safely operate a motor vehicle.

A driver's license (qua driver's license) should be issued to anyone able to safely operate a motor vehicle. Period. The reason a driver's license has become an all-purpose identity card is because law enforcement needed a way to verify whether a person they stop is licensed or not. Thus, licenses have a photograph and identifying information. In the modern world I dispute the necessity for people to carry driver's licenses at all — identification could be made by other means, and the individual's license status simply looked up in a database.

I would actually prefer an anonymous driver's license. Why should any of my personal information be on it? The purpose of a driver's license is to establish that the bearer passed a driving exam. No aspect of that purpose requires knowing or tracking the identity of the driver. Generate a key to represent the license, cryptographically combine it with biometric data from the person who passed the exam, and then police can use biometric data to verify that the license bearer is the same individual the license was issued to. (Yes, your biometric data is known, and it could be used to identify you. But it doesn't identify you directly — it doesn't provide information about you such as your name or address or anything else. By itself the biometric data can only say whether you're the same person who the license was issued to.)

I believe an extremely small number of those who oppose issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens hold their belief because they don't want such people driving. Rather, people are opposed to it because they are afraid of the implications of driver's licenses as identity documents. But driver's licenses shouldn't be, and don't need to be, identity documents.

I am completely in favor of disrupting systems that use driver's licenses as identity documents. They shouldn't be doing that in the first place.


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