Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why states are resisting U.S. on plan for REAL I.D.

Before I get to the article in the Christian Science Monitor detailing the rising state opposition to the REAL ID Act, let's begin with a little background.

On May 1st, 2007 the Department of Homeland Security held a national town hall meeting at the University of California at Davis to discuss implementation of the REAL ID Act. The Consumer Federation of California (CFC) testified in opposition to the ACT because we believe it would represent a gross violation of personal privacy rights and actually increase the potential for identity theft.

REAL ID Overview: The Real ID Act of 2005 would turn our state driver’s licenses into a genuine national identity card and impose numerous new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants, and state governments – while doing nothing to protect against terrorism. This new federal identity document would be required of every American in order to fly on commercial airlines, enter government buildings, open a bank account, and more.

Richard Holober, CFC's Executive Director, summed up our opposition thusly:

"This proposal will create a potential one-stop shop for identity thieves. The regulations are silent on the question of certain data, but we believe it is likely that most states will scan and save electronically all source documents, birth certificates, proof of address, et cetera, making this information part of state databases as well. The creation of a massive national database loaded with American's personal information would be a dream come true for identity thieves.


We're extremely worried that rather than safeguarding security, the more identity thieves can get their hands on aggregated records, the more there will be identity theft and that will be by not only common variety criminals, but by terrorists as well. We're opposed to these regulations."

The good news is states across the country are opposing this federal power grab, on the basis of both privacy and cost concerns.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

The federal government's efforts to create a standardized, secure driver's license that would also serve as a national ID card have hit some significant stumbling blocks. Chief among them: Eight states have voted in the past year not to participate in the program. Nine others are on the record opposing the proposal. In total, legislation opposing the plan has been introduced in 38 states.


The objections raised by states have already prompted DHS to extend the deadline for implementation from the spring of 2008 to 2013. Last week, Guest and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sparked more consternation at DHS by claiming it watered down REAL ID requirements so much that it negated the original intent of the program. In a conference call with state officials, including Guest, DHS reportedly said it is considering further extensions. DHS also made it clear that if states don't comply, their citizens could still use passports or go through extended screening to board planes.

For the full article click here...

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