When applying for a driver’s license in Michigan, an individual must provide a full legal name; date of birth; residence address; one’s sex, eye color, and signature; whether or not one intends to make an anatomical gift; and the last 4 digits of one’s Social Security number.[i]
Also, according to Michigan Compiled Law, an individual “may have his or her image and signature captured or reproduced.”[ii]
When a parent takes a teenager to the Secretary of State’s office to apply for a driver’s license, the parent must provide a certified copy of the youth’s birth certificate. Then, that youth’s name, birthday, address, gender, signature, last four digits of the youth’s Social Security number, the youth’s signature and picture are provided to (captured by) the Secretary of State. An image of the youth’s birth certificate is included in this process.
This child may be as young as 14 years 9 months of age. Say a stranger wished to locate this child? All that is necessary to find that minor was provided to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This precious “eligible but unregistered” voter information is unavailable elsewhere. It is personal, private data that money cannot buy.
Congress tried to be proactive in protecting the privacy of individuals. In an effort to address the vulnerability of individuals when this information is given to state departments, Congress passed the 1994 Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.[iii] The federal DPPA prohibits information that “identifies an individual” to be disclosed to any entity without written consent of the individual. [iv]
In signing the ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center) agreement and paying ERIC an annual membership fee of $25,000 of taxpayer dollars, Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson agreed to transmit to ERIC information, every 60 days, the private, personal information of inactive and active voters and drivers in the state. Benson sacrificed the privacy of every Michigander with a driver’s license on the altar of “Election Reform.”
ERIC touts a mission to “engage in meaningful, evidence-based reform of the election system.” But ERIC maintains no office. Its three (3) employees work remotely. It refuses to respond to any Freedom of Information Act requests.[v]
The need for its technology, while arguably justifiable at its founding in 2012, is long gone.
Eight states—including an original member of ERIC—have recently withdrawn from the compromised and politicized organization.
Parents of teens might want to ask: Where is my child’s private information? People possessing a Michigan driver’s license have the right to demand that the state follow Federal law and protect their private information and the private information of minors. Did every license-holding Michigander give written consent for this information to be shared with ERIC? Michigan taxpayers financed the state’s enrollment in the ERIC system.
Did we taxpayers simultaneously, willingly, or knowingly, place tax dollars as well as our privacy and our children’s privacy on ERIC’s altar?
[i] MCL §257.307 1(a)
[ii] MCL §257.307 (2)
[iii] 18 USC §2721. The statute prohibits the disclosure of personal information (as defined in 18 U.S.C. §2725) without the express consent of the person to whom such information applies, with the exception of certain circumstances set forth in 18 U.S.C. §2721.
[iv] This became Public Law 103-322, codified 106-69 and applies to all states and territories of the United States.
[v]www.ericstates.org “An Open Letter from ERIC’s Executive Director” dated March 2, 2023.
Elizabeth Ayoub, a volunteer writer and editor for MFE, started her career working for an international company, transitioned into teaching French and Latin while her children were young, and then became a Michigan attorney. She resides in St. Johns, Mich.