Council Bill May Block Smart Chips in New York Municipal IDs

The measure, introduced Thursday by Councilman Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, would prohibit the city from adding any information to the card that isn’t already visible on the face of the identification.

by Anna Sanders, New York Daily News / September 12, 2019
New York City Hall and the Manhattan Municipal Building Shutterstock/Leonid Andronov

(TNS) — The city won’t be able to add a smart chip in the IDNYC municipal identification card under a Council bill set to be introduced on Thursday.

The legislation comes after the city moved to add a financial services smart-chip to the card to increase access to banking benefits – which advocates worry could expose undocumented immigrants to a hostile federal government.

The bill from Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) would prohibit the city from adding any information to the card that isn’t already visible on the face of the ID. The city wouldn’t be able to add any mechanism that transmits information to the card either.

“IDNYC works because New Yorkers trust it," Menchaca said. “However, the Mayor’s plan to add a smart chip to the card is dangerous and will not only undermine its past success, but also jeopardize its future.”

The municipal ID card was particularly designed for – and marketed to – undocumented New Yorkers without another form of identification.

Menchaca said those concerns about adding a smart-chip “are still unanswered – even after several months of discussions with the Administration.”

“Making the card more versatile is a worthy goal, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of IDNYC, one of the most successful City programs ever implemented,” he said. "It is the Council’s duty to protect its integrity and success.”

Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said that the city is looking into adding a chip “that would empower underserved communities with access to much needed financial services, a core goal of the program and a requirement of the local law adopted by the City Council.”

“This exploration process continues, and the City remains as committed as ever to providing benefits to cardholders. No decisions will be made without ensuring the highest standard of privacy and security protections,” Mostofi said.

©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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