News Bite

Detroit should scrap city ID program, after 2-year break, data leak

Rather than bring program in-house, Detroit should partner with Secretary of State to help Detroiters get IDs

The city of Detroit has scrapped its Detroit ID program after a data leak affecting 800 applicants, The Detroit News reports.

The News describes the 2016-launched program as a "recognition that diverse populations, including many homeless residents and undocumented immigrants, lack an accepted form of government identification, without which they cannot access needed services and resources."

If that is true, why then did the Detroit ID program pause for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and only relaunch in May?

If the city of Detroit was doing great work to serve diverse populations, why would it stop at the time of greatest need? At a time when the state and federal government were also becoming less responsive, due to the pandemic? 

If Detroit ID couldn't serve Detroiters at an historically trying time, what good was it?

And now, with the leak, injury is added to insult. As The News reports:

"Since relaunching in May, the new vendor for the program, MoCaFi, has been found selling and/or sharing personal information through clearinghouses used by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). This puts immigrant communities at risk for targeted enforcement and exposes all applicants’ personal information to third parties without their consent."

This is worse than if Detroit had never created an ID program.

As Mayor Mike Duggan and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson are both Detroiters and both Democrats, perhaps they can get in touch. Perhaps their offices can partner up to make it easier for Detroiters to get state IDs.

Detroit ID does not allow for driving or voting, The News reports. 

Essential services don't take two-year breaks. And diverse populations hardly have the resources to withstand data leaks.

Detroit City Councilwoman Gabriela Santiago-Romero wants to bring the program in-house, rather than contract it out. That would be the wrong conclusion to take from this. 

Detroit ID never made sense. Its proof of concept died the day the program pressed pause, and life in Detroit somehow went on without it.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.