Governor Mitt Romney today unveiled first-in-the-nation, tamper-resistant Massachusetts driver’s licenses that will help curb identity theft and mark the start of an effort to introduce new procedures that will make it harder for terrorists to operate.
"In Massachusetts, a license to drive shouldn’t become a license to steal or commit mayhem," Romney said.
The new licenses and identification cards, which will be introduced November 1, contain a host of security features to reduce fraud. One of the most noticeable changes is a hologram-like Kinegram® security feature at the center of the license, which displays unique characteristics when it is shifted or viewed from various angles.
"The Kinegram represents a technology that is used on no other license in the nation," said Transportation Secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas. "It is tremendously difficult to duplicate and has a series of characteristics that are distinctly unique. Bar none, this is the most tamper-resistant license in America."
Romney said that identity theft is a nationwide problem, noting that nearly 10 million Americans were victims of the growing trend just last year. In Massachusetts, identity theft complaints rose 28 percent in one year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The new licenses have digital watermarks in two locations on their front in addition to a new translucent "ghost picture" of the identification-holder prominently placed on the front of the card. All of this information lies under a new complex "gradient background" to make duplication even more difficult.
While many of the other improvements are visible to the naked eye, features such as micro-printing and ultraviolet images are not. Some of the printing on the new prototype overlaps the photo of the cardholder to make alterations more difficult. The back of the licenses also feature two-dimensional and one-dimensional bar codes that contain information relative to the cardholder as a manufacture date specific to the identification.
"Massachusetts has always been the leader in license security," said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Kimberly Hinden. "Thanks to these new security features, we will be able to better protect the integrity of our license and continue to enjoy that reputation for years to come."
Romney noted that the rollout of the new security-driven licenses is the first step in a comprehensive process to make the new licenses as secure as possible. Congress is already moving to standardize the documentation required to get a driver’s license in response to recommendations made by the September 11th Commission. Here in Massachusetts, the Romney Administration is looking at developing more rigorous standards to determine the authenticity of a person’s information as they apply for a driver’s license.
"When it comes to homeland security, our new driver’s license is only as good as the issuance process beneath it," said Romney. "That’s why we are actively developing ideas and technology to thwart the potential of terrorist activity."
For more information about the new licenses and identification cards, please refer to the following brochure:
A Guide to the new Massachusetts License & Identification Cards (PDF, 522k)