Virginia To Use DMV Records To Compile Electronic Identity Database


With the help of an inflow of Federal funds, Virginia officials are making moves to develop a master identity database of residents using Department of Motor Vehicle records as its core.

The State’s government contends that the largely Federally funded e-ID system called the Commonwealth Authentication Service will lessen occurrences of fraud and help residents do business electronically with the State. But critics worry that the database could be abused.

“It makes it easier to compromise your privacy,” Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “They’re using DMV for some other purpose than driving.”

Virginia officials expect that many residents will cast aside any privacy concerns over the massive State identity database because it will make it easier to deal with frustrating government forms.

“This is geared toward citizens who say, ‘Why do I have to fill out this again?'” said David Burhop, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ deputy commissioner and chief information officer.

Information including names, addresses, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers of the nearly 5.9 Virginians registered with the DMV is set to be compiled in the electronic database. The first of the State’s agencies to use the database will be the Department of Social Services because, officials say, it will aid in satisfying new Federal Medicaid requirements imposed by the Affordable Care Act.

State officials say that the database will allow residents to create verifiable virtual identities that could be beneficial in other aspects of life as well — for example, selling a vehicle online.

“If both parties had a high-assurance credential such as an e-ID,” Pam Goheen, DMV’s assistant commissioner for communications, told the Dispatch, “this transaction could be done entirely online which would include the registration and title updates eliminating the need to visit the DMV and speeding up the process.”

But the ACLU’s Gastañaga argues that the government promises of increased convenience are not worth the potential for abuse of the system later.

“When we allow governments to do that,” said Virginia ACLU’s Gastañaga, “it facilitates and empowers things that we might not want to have happen if the wrong people get into power.”

The State has held no public debate on whether such a system should be created, but public officials contend that there is no need because inclusion in the system will be optional at first.

Other concerns surrounding the e-ID system include the safety of the information to be stored by the government, as hackers are routinely able to breach government information systems. The Commonwealth Authentication Service, some experts warn, could become a treasure trove for identity thieves.

“When you ask a government entity to keep something like this safe, they really can’t,” one cybersecurity expert said. “Nobody can guarantee it.”

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • independent thinker

    “…officials contend that there is no need because inclusion in the system will be optional at first.”
    The important words here are “at first”.

  • CWA

    There are nearly six people registered with the DMV in Virginia? What about the thousands of other drivers?

  • Beverly Golato

    Federal funds? Is this the Obama administration’s back door into a federal data base to use for other purposes, like do they own a gun? We can’t trust any government agency, today to do the right thing.

  • dan

    ….sure , just be certain to include whether they work for the state or the feds …
    ohnoes ! That info getting out would be too DANGEROUS !

  • mari

    Will they use this database to monitor voting booths? If so it might be a racist, anti poor step and Obama may come in and sue them…oh. that would depend onup whether the voters are mainly liberal or conservative.

  • Vigilant

    “this transaction could be done entirely online which would include the registration and title updates eliminating the need to visit the DMV and speeding up the process.”

    Virginia DMV must be light years behind the rest of the USA. Most states allow you to renew/update titles and registrations, driver’s licenses and a host of other vehicle-related transactions on line.

    Ergo, Pam Goheen’s explanation is a subterfuge. It’s got nothing to do with expediting vehicle transactions and everything to do with the Big Brother mentality.

  • Briylaln

    this system will not control fraud, it will only track individuals and invade privacy

  • Drake2003

    Systems like the one being planned in Virginia will no doubt transfer data to automobile insurance companies. If they find out you don’t have health insurance at work or with the Obama Care scheme then you will be levied with higher car premiums. This will be another way to punish people into signing up for Obama Care.