This week the Ontario legislature will resume debate on Bill 85, proposed legislation that could lead to the creation of an "enhanced drivers licence" in the province (referred to as an EDL). My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the introduction of the new licence – which will also be available as a photo card for non-drivers – has received little public attention despite the urgent concerns expressed by privacy commissioners and civil liberties groups. Indeed, barring an unlikely change of plans, the legislation could be passed within a matter of days.
The primary impetus behind the EDL is the increased border security measures between Canada and the United States. As the U.S. increased identity card requirements for entry into the country (passports are now required at most border crossings), government officials in both countries have sought to develop an alternative to the passport. The EDL, which will embed new technologies including a radio frequency identification device (RFID) within the card, is the outcome of that work. While the enhanced card will be optional, it is expected that many residents may pay the extra fee for the EDL. Moreover, Ontarians will not be alone in this regard as other provinces and U.S. states have similar plans. As Ontario moves closer to an EDL with this new legislation, the concern from the privacy and civil liberties communities – who point to three overarching concerns – have continued to mount.