Civil liberties groups express concern over ‘smart chips' in ID cards

Last year, New York City asked for proposals from vendors to add a financial service "smart chip" on IDNYC municipal identification cards, so that New Yorkers who do not have access to bank accounts to load money onto the cards and make payments. Currently, over one million New Yorkers have an IDNYC card, many of whom are undocumented immigrants.

However, some civil liberties advocates say that the chips aren't a smart idea due to privacy concerns.

"In proposing that we now put in contactless technology that would turn the card into a ready-made tracking device, we are defeating the purpose of the ID card," said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. 

The NYCLU, along with several other immigration advocacy groups, sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, to express their opposition to the proposal and warning that it would make immigrants targets.

"It makes them all targets for law enforcement, immigration enforcement agents, to track their every move, and that's something that the city should have no part of," Lieberman said. 

On Thursday, Councilman Carlos Mechaca introduced a bill that would prohibit the ID cards from containing hidden information and use of that type of technology.

In a statement to FOX 5 NY, Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, said that the possible addition of a "smart chip" would empower underserved communities with access to much-needed financial services.

"The exploration process continues, and the city remains as committed as ever to providing benefits to cardholders. We have always held the highest standard of privacy and security protections and no decisions will be made that would change that," Mostofi said in part. 

The Office of Immigrant Affairs says that no final decisions have been made according to any new features added to the card would be opt-in only and entirely optional.