Leading Privacy and Civil Liberties Groups Urge TSA Not to Proceed with Unsafe Interim Rulemaking on Mobile Driver’s Licenses

October 17, 2023

In comments filed yesterday, EPIC, the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the TSA not to proceed with a temporary waiver process that would allow people in certain states to use their mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) at TSA checkpoints before the agency goes through a full rulemaking process, and before significant technical standards for mDLs have been published. The comments argued that TSA’s process would exacerbate the very concerns TSA claims to be addressing, a lack of uniform technology and risks of early vendor lock-in, while there is no public demand for mDLs. TSA’s proposal would expose individuals to privacy harms, risks of identity theft, and would do little to develop a sustainable mDL system.

The agency’s proposal is an interim rulemaking is a new exception to the REAL ID Act of 2005 that would allow a case-by-case determination for whether TSA will accept a state’s app and design choices used to issue a version of a driver’s license onto a phone. Instead of developing lasting standards, the interim rulemaking incorporates a variety of existing standards, some from the federal government that are not designed specifically for mDLs and others from private industry groups that have not allowed public participation and are often costly to view. EPIC and the organizations argued that this interim process does not meet the agency’s mandate. 

EPIC works consistently to prevent harmful developments in digital identity and promote strong, privacy-protective options for digital identity systems where appropriate.  EPIC, along with a broad coalition, opposed REAL ID because it created a de facto national identity system and has exposed Americans to data breaches. Criminal hackers compromised the authenticating documents in state DMVs including OregonNorth Carolina, and California. EPIC has urged the DHS to limit the data collection and ensure transparency and accountability in implementing REAL ID.

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