In 2009, the ACLU successfully sponsored legislation (HB 2371) that restricts the swiping of the barcode on Oregon Driver Licenses (ODL) through an electronic reader. The barcodes contain significant personal information, including name, date of birth (DOB), address, height, weight, gender, driver license number, driving restrictions and donor status.

As more personal information is amassed in databases, the likelihood increases that the information will be misused or stolen, leading to increased risks of identity theft. While it appears there is limited use of this technology in Oregon, we advocated for laws that limit its use by providing protections before swiping becomes the latest trend.

After our proposal was introduced in the 2009 session, the ACLU negotiated changes to HB 2371 with what we thought were all of the stakeholders: Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Mortgage Lenders Association, a member of TechAmerica and the wireless telecom providers. The result was a compromise that allowed the swiping of an ODL for very limited purposes (for fraud, age verification, check services, and, optional for the consumer, to open a wireless account) and only by certain types of businesses. It also prohibited any use of the data for any other purpose (including marketing) and limited the information that can be collected to four datasets (name, address, DOB and ODL number only); however, it allowed businesses to permanently retain those four datasets.

This session HB 2615, introduced by the Oregon Bankers Association (OBA) and sponsored by Rep. Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley), would have expanded both the scope of use and the datasets that can be retained under this law in a manner inconsistent with the 2009 law. OBA believed the 2009 law did not allow them to swipe an ODL. They wanted all financial institutions, which under Oregon law includes extra national institutions, to have the authority to swipe an ODL for any purpose. That grant of authority was far too broad and inconsistent with the uses allowed by all other entities covered under the current law. We were willing to discuss a more narrow approach for specific types of uses consistent with the current law.

At the same time, AT&T, one of the wireless providers we negotiated with in 2009, wanted to amend the law to allow wireless providers to collect an additional dataset, the ODL expiration date. Despite extensive negotiations in 2009, AT&T and other wireless providers now claimed that their systems required five datasets to operate. In our informal survey in the Portland area, we found no wireless provider that actually swipes a person’s driver license to open an account. ODL expiration has no relevance to opening or maintaining a wireless account. As such, we opposed this proposal as well.

The ACLU attempted to negotiate with the OBA to address our concerns. The OBA, despite testifying to the House Business & Labor Committee that it was eager to work with us, literally ignored our attempts to negotiate. As a result, we opposed HB 2615 when it came for a vote on the House floor. We did not anticipate stopping HB 2615 from passing in the House but we wanted to make sure there were enough “no” votes to assist us on the Senate side. We were more than pleased when HB 2615 passed by a narrow margin, 35-23. Our next step was to advocate for referral of HB 2615 to the appropriate Senate committee. At our urging, and over the objections of the proponents, HB 2615 was appropriately assigned to the Senate General Government, Consumer and Small Business Committee. We met with the Chair Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland) and requested that HB 2615 not receive a hearing but instead die in the Committee. We are very pleased to report that this is exactly what happened.

House: 35-23
Scorecard Vote: House