June 24, 2013

Crapo: E-Verify Cannot Become A Privacy Concern

Amendment will prohibit a national ID system

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is continuing his efforts to improve S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, commonly referred to as the "Immigration Reform bill" currently being debated on the Senate floor.  Crapo has joined his colleague from Montana, Senator Jon Tester, to offer an amendment to provide a "use restriction" to clarify when E-Verify photographs can and cannot be used.  This amendment is in response to concerns that the federal mandate to implement E-Verify would result in a national, searchable database of vital biographic information and photographs of every American, similar to a national ID system.

"Recent revelations about the extent of government surveillance, be it the IRS, CFPB or NSA, have many Idahoans concerned about the erosion of their privacy," Crapo said.  "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must be prohibited from keeping driver's license photographs on record after the employment verification process is complete.  Without proper controls, E-Verify could be utilized in any situation where an ID check is currently required, including the airport, a gun shop or voting booth.  Unless otherwise directed, DHS will have the ability to maintain a database of photos provided by participating state agencies, essentially moving down the path toward a national ID system." 

The amendment specifically prohibits DHS from maintaining a database of photos provided by participating state agencies, except when a verification query is made using a state-issued ID.  In that case, DHS may not use, disclose or store the photos for any purpose other than verification.  Finally, the "Limitation on Use" section in S. 744 is reworded to say "no department, bureau, or other agency shall" use the information derived from an identity verification.

"Our guest worker program must be improved to benefit both employers and employees," Crapo added.  "While the E-Verify system is a good start, we must ensure there are safeguards in place to protect privacy and guarantee it is not used for other purposes.   Americans have continually expressed opposition to a national ID system, and I will work to make sure the DHS is not added to the list of agencies collecting and misusing private information."

Crapo will work with Tester and the managers of the bill to push for a vote on this amendment.