Following the example of Washington and BC, Quebec and Vermont have signed a deal to place chips with encrypted copies of criminal records and other data on driver’s licences, in an attempt to convince Washington to allow people to cross the border without a passport, since many people “won’t bother with the hassle of a passport” just to do a little cross-border shopping, and their purchases are economically significant (especially in whichever country has the lower-valued currency at the moment).
A few comments: first, I just don’t understand Canadian citizens who wish to travel to other nations but refuse to get a passport. Fill out the paperwork already! You can even get one which does not discloses place of birth, like mine. They’re easier to get now (to help reduce the backlog). Second: boy, do I not want that data on my driver’s licence. I bet the encryption won’t be all that hard to beat. There are already bars and clubs in Ontario that insist on scanning the driver’s licence of anyone entering, and I don’t want to hand that data out to all of them. Third: for now the new licence will be optional, and slightly more expensive. I will not be exercising that option. Given that I’ll effectively have decided to hide (even more) information from US border officials, I expect I’ll continue to be treated differently than people who chose to share this information (which, please note, is more than already available on my passport). Fourth: it’s unclear if Washington is even going to agree to allow people to cross the border with these documents. But even if they do, this raises the bar for what data they’ll require to be included in travel documents which are accepted as identification at border crossings. Once this becomes the norm, I doubt the new data will ever be dropped from future documents.
Small side note: the chip will also contain birth dates; Quebec driver’s licences don’t currently carry this information, because it’s already on our health cards. Can anyone explain why other provinces don’t do this, other than force of habit? If (essentially) all residents are carrying one piece of photo ID already, why not put birth dates there, as opposed to on document only carried by people eligible to drive cars?