Worried a Big Brother government wants to store your bank balance, fingerprints and health history on a credit card-size piece of plastic and then make you show that card to get basic services?

You'll find some friends at Saturday's state Republican Convention.A number of GOP delegates want the convention to pass a resolution that would warn Utah lawmakers about formally requiring "smart-card" technology for a state driver's license.

A bill, sponsored by Rep. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, that would have required the state Division of Motor Vehicles to begin such technology, failed in the 1997 Legislature, in part through the uncommon alliance of the conservative Eagle Forum and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Eagle Forum and ACLU rarely agree on anything. But spokeswomen for both groups say they worry the new technology is too great a threat to personal liberties and privacy guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Adair and Gov. Mike Leavitt say the fears are unfounded. The technology, used in Europe for years and formally adopted by Wyoming and Ohio in the United States, is actually safer than the current laminated driver's license, which can be duplicated fairly easily, both men say.

Leavitt wants the smart card to be optional. The standard driver's license could be issued, if desired. Leavitt himself carries a smart card, encoded to provide several services to him.

Leavitt, a Republican who will address Saturday's convention, hopes the anti-smart card resolution won't be taken up by the convention, which meets in the Salt Palace to elect new party leaders.

But Davis County Republican Steve Stromness, who a month ago successfully pushed a similar resolution in the Davis County GOP convention, says Republican legislators should know how many Republicans feel about the new technology.

"We don't oppose the smart card being used by the state," said Stromness, a chemical engineer. "We do oppose it being mandatory. We should have a choice whether we use it or not."

But in House debate earlier this year, Adair said it made no sense to run both systems at the same time. His bill passed the House but failed in the Senate. It will be studied by lawmakers this summer and fall. Adair believes he'll re-introduce it in the 1998 session and expects it to pass.

A smart card looks much like a regular driver's license, with a photo, printed name, address and physical description of the licensee. But it would also carry a computer chip that could store a lot of information. And that chip is the difference to Stromness and other opponents.

The chip could carry all types of information. It could be encoded to be a credit card, library card. It could carry a fingerprint, allergies list and organ donor information in case of death. It could be a debit card used to get cash out of automatic teller machines or a phone card to make long-distance calls. It could be just about anything.

Adair says he intends for the state to only put driver's license information on the card, the same information a driver's license now carries.

It would be up to the cardholder himself whether he also puts his credit card on the smart card, his health history or other items. The chip is configured so that different organizations would use different parts for their information, and nonauthorized organizations couldn't retrieve or add information, Adair said.

But Carol Gnade of the ACLU says it only follows that once the state required such a driver's license card, businesses would get on board. "What happens if businesses use the smart card as the only I.D. they will accept? Then even if they allow people to be issued the old driver's license as an alternative, you really can't choose the old license, can you?"

Gayle Ruzicka of Utah Eagle Forum said, "(Businesses) are already talking about requiring a fingerprint" to cash a check. "Do we really want government having access to all the citizens' fingerprints?"

Ruzicka also sees the problem of businesses, or even government, refusing to give the cardholder access to all the information carried on his own card. "They could put information on the card that we wouldn't even know about. Where does that lead?" (Adair's bill said the licensee could review card information).

Adair says smart-card technology can prohibit different organizations from decoding the information of other organizations. If an individual wanted his credit-card account on the card, only the credit-card company could get that information off the chip. If health history is on the chip, only a hospital or EMT could carry a machine to read that information. And so on.

"The government wouldn't have access to any of that" other information, he said.

"There are seven different (computer) processes used" to get at information - a numerical com-bin-a-tion that statistically would be almost impossible to break. If a thief, no matter how techo-literate, tried to access the card, after three failed attempts to "hack" his way in, card-access systems would shut down, Adair said.

Stromness, Gnade and Ruzicka are not persuaded. "We know (GOP legislators) are not bound by what the (Republican state) convention does. But we want them to hear us on this issue, to think about what they are doing to all of us," Stromness said. *****

Additional Information

Conventiongoers to debate other issues, too

Several other resolutions have been submitted for consideration in the Utah State Republican Convention. The resolutions say:

- Sen. Orrin Hatch's CHILD Act, which would raise the federal cigarette tax and spend $20 billion to provide health care for poor children, is against the state party platform and the U.S. Constitution. The resolution asks Congress to reject Hatch's bill.

Hatch, R-Utah, is invited to speak to the convention after 10 a.m. But all resolutions will be discussed and voted on between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

- That planning and construction of a light-rail, mass-transit system in Salt Lake County should be halted until county citizens can vote on whether to proceed.

In 1996, the state Republican Central Committee and the Salt Lake County Republican Central Committee both passed motions to require an approval vote on light rail.

- That any GOP candidate who fails to keep campaign promises, fails to tell the truth in a campaign, fails to support a citizen's right to vote on non-emergency tax increases or fails to support the rights of parents and families shall be ineligible to get any campaign money from the Republican Party.

GOP activist and radio talk show host Mills Crenshaw pushes these "truth in politics" resolutions.