October 1, 2013
Using Department of Motor Vehicles records as its core, the state government is quietly developing a master identity database of Virginia residents for use by state agencies.
The state enterprise record - the master electronic ID database - would help agencies ferret out fraud and help residents do business electronically with the state more easily, officials said.
While officials say the e-ID initiative will be limited in scope and access, it comes at a time of growing public concern about electronic privacy, identity theft and government intrusion.
"It makes it easier to compromise your privacy," said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "They're using DMV for some other purpose than driving."
DMV points out that, in today's world, state driver's licenses are the fundamental identification documents used by most Americans.
State officials say participation in the e-ID system will be voluntary, but the reason that the state has been moving to offer "privacy-enhancing credentials" to Virginia residents is the increasing number of government services offered online.
However, "anything you make more accessible and efficient for the user, you potentially open up for opportunities for risk, for attack," said Robby Demeria, executive director of RichTech, Richmond's technology council.