The New York Civil Liberties Union [NYCLU] has come out in opposition to Mayor de Blasio's new municipal ID cards. A hearing was held yesterday, but the NYCLU did not testify. Sources tell NY1 "the administration was unhappy with their planned remarks." An NYCLU spokesperson would not comment on the group's absence from the hearing.
In their statement, the NYCLU cited potential privacy violations as their chief concern with the cards, as their creation would allow the city access to highly personal and private information.
"While the NYC ID will bring benefits to many people, we are disappointed that the city is inviting New Yorkers to gamble with the stakes as high as prosecution or even deportation," NYCLU Advocacy Director Johanna Miller said. According to Miller:
The bill that is before the mayor today also provides for the city to copy and store people’s most sensitive documentation, like pay stubs, social security numbers, and even their children’s educational records. In this bill, the city has not done enough to protect those documents from being used by law enforcement. The NYPD, FBI, DHS and others can request these documents without having to show probable cause. And if they are requested, the city has no obligation to even notify the person so they might be able to defend their own privacy. For these reasons, the NYCLU regretfully cannot support this legislation.
The bill, which Mayor de Blasio intends to sign in Brooklyn today, will allow the city to create its own system of identification, accessible by any New Yorkers, including illegal immigrants. "For those who are undocumented or for folks who have been in other ways left out in our society, the municipal ID card represents a ticket out of the shadows," de Blasio said at the hearing.
While Miller acknowledges that the municipal ID will provide opportunities to undocumented New Yorkers, allowing residents to open a bank account and sign their children up for daycare, she also warns, "Because of the serious risks, it is incumbent on the city to fully utilize the protective features built into the program: the reporting requirement will provide valuable metrics on how and when people’s documents are used by law enforcement, and the sunset provision gives the city a meaningful opportunity to end the document retention after a preliminary period."
But de Blasio’s spokeswoman Maibe Ponet insists privacy is a top priority. "The Municipal ID bill strikes the right balance between protecting privacy interests, protecting individuals from becoming the victims of identity theft or fraud, and enabling investigations of those cases should they arise,” Ponet told the Daily News. “We are unequivocally committed to protecting and preserving the privacy of the information collected in this program.”
The bill, which was first introduced in April, will take effect by the end of this year. The application fee has not yet been decided but will probably be in the neighborhood of $10.