Colo. Stops Sale of License Photos
Feb. 03, 1999
DENVER (AP) _ Colorado is halting the sale of driver's license photos to a company that uses them for an anti-fraud system, giving lawmakers time to consider outlawing the transaction that drew criticism as an invasion of privacy.
Florida took similar action this week, and the arrangement also is under fire in South Carolina.
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens said Tuesday that legislative leaders had agreed to introduce a bill to block sale of the photos and possibly other personal data to Image Data Corp. of Nashua, N.H. A 1997 law had allowed the Division of Motor Vehicles to sell the pictures.
``I'm just concerned about the intrusion of government into areas that should be private,'' Owens said.
Image Data Corp. is using the photos to develop a computerized identification system intended to help retailers prevent fraudulent check cashing and credit-card charges.
Colorado contracted to transmit about 5 million pieces of data from driver's licenses for $128,000, Owens said. So far, only about 50,000 pieces of information have been sent to Image Data.
South Carolina sold 3.5 million driver's license photos to the company last year for $5,000. Ten businesses in that state are testing the company's photo ID system. South Carolina lawmakers also have proposed legislation to block the sale of license photos.
On Monday, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush terminated a contract with Image Data, hours after a judge ordered the state to stop selling license photos and other data to the company.
In Colorado, Owens said he does not believe the state will face any legal problems if it suspends the sales until legislation is enacted banning the transaction.
Owens would like to see legislation outlawing the sale of such of information as home addresses and Social Security numbers in addition to license snapshots. He said the state has made that data available for several years, although generally to individuals rather than in bulk sales.
``I think Coloradans should have a right to more confidentiality on driver's license information,'' Owens said.
Representatives of Image Data did not immediately return calls for comment today.
Under Image Data's ``True ID'' service, drivers' photos stored in a computer could be displayed on retailers' terminals for a few seconds, and only for the purpose of verifying the identity of someone cashing a check or using a charge card. The rest of the license data and the Social Security numbers would be used only to find and transmit the correct photograph, company officials have said.
One of the 10 South Carolina merchants testing the system says it is working just fine.
``The response we've gotten is customers see their driver's license photos come up and they think it's exciting,'' said Doug Manning, owner of an Exxon station in Orangeburg, S.C.