WASHINGTON The U.S. Transportation Department is embarking on a pilot program that will use authentication technology to crack down on fake drivers' licenses.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will use digital watermarking technology developed by Digimarc Corp. (Beverton, Ore.) to launch a pilot program to help police, retailers and state motor vehicle departments to authenticate drivers' licenses. The licenses would contain digital watermarking security features.
The $1 million pilot program, which will begin immediately and be completed in late in 2005, would seek to stop the proliferation of fake licenses often used by minors to illegally purchase alcohol. The effort also seeks to reduce the growing number of alcohol-related auto fatalities involving high school-age drivers.
Police estimates suggest that half of all high school students may carry some form of fake ID.
Digimarc said it will issue a request for proposals inviting state DMVs to apply to participate in the pilot program. The agencies help develop requirements for inspecting digitally watermarked driver licenses.
So far, 10 states have incorporated digital watermarking technology into driver licenses.