Editorial: A little protection for state’s drivers

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Long ago, in a more innocent pre-internet age, New Hampshire driver’s licenses contained a motorist’s physical description and photo, as well as his or her date of birth and Social Security number. A driver could ask that the latter not appear, which privacy buffs did. Making all that information available today, when banks, retail establishments and others require that licenses be presented and even scanned to cash a check, return an item or enter a building, would be unthinkable, not to mention an invitation to identity theft.

Having one’s identity stolen can be a costly, time-consuming nightmare, so we applaud any step that makes it less likely. That includes the Department of Motor Vehicles’ new practice of using eight randomly generated numbers preceded by the letters NHL to identify motorists. The old system, which is being phased out as licenses expire, uses the first and last letter in the driver’s last name and the first letter of his or her first name followed by the motorist’s birth date. The change won’t do much to impede identity theft if a license is scanned, but it would limit the information gathered if all that’s recorded is the driver’s license number.

A small protection, but a worthy one.