The California driver’s license looks very similar to a plastic credit card with a magnetic “stripe” on the back. The “stripe” holds information which can be read by special scanners. Currently the information on the stripe is the same as the front of the license. It can be used by law enforcement officers to print traffic tickets and by retailers to record information when a customer pays by check. Some privacy advocates are concerned that the magnetic stripe makes it easier for merchants to establish computerized data banks about their customers, and thereby poses a threat to personal privacy.
In California, Civil Code 1798.90.1 prohibits bars, car dealers and others from collecting personal information by swiping the magnetic stripe for purposes other than verifying age or the authenticity of the driver’s license, or preventing fraud.