The REAL ID Act of 2005
The REAL ID Act of 2005 creates a de facto national identification card. Ostensibly voluntary, it would become mandatory as those without the card would face suspicion and increased scrutiny. It is a law imposing federal technological standards and verification procedures on state driver's licenses and identification cards, many of which are beyond the current capacity of the federal government, and mandating state compliance by May 2008. In fact, REAL ID turns state DMV workers into federal immigration officials, as they must verify the citizenship status of all those who want a REAL ID-approved state driver's license or identification cards. State DMVs would far move away from their core mission -- to license drivers.
REAL ID was appended to a bill providing tsunami relief and military appropriations, and passed with little debate and no hearings. The REAL ID Act repealed provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which contained "carefully crafted language -- bipartisan language -- to establish standards for States issuing driver's licenses," according to Sen. Richard Durbin. After more than two years, the Department of Homeland Security issued draft regulations for state compliance on March 1, 2007.
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates\ that that the cost to the states will be more than $11 billion over five years. This is more than 100 times the $100 million cost that Congress initially estimated. For 2006, $40 million was allocated for start-up costs. No more funding has been allocated, and it is likely that the cost will be shouldered by the public.
How will the REAL ID Act affect state driver's licenses and identification cards (DL/ID)?
If the Department of Homeland Security Secretary doesn't grant a state an extension to meet the certification requirements, then by May 11, 2008 (three years after passage of the REAL ID Act), states must meet the following standards to be accepted for federal use (entrance into a courthouse, onto a plane; receiving federal benefits, such as Social Security or Medicare). After more than two years, the Department of Homeland Security issued draft regulations on March 1, 2007, explaining how the states can meet these standards. The EPIC analysis of the potential privacy implications follows the enumeration of the each set of standards.
Minimum document requirements, §202(b):
"To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by the State:
(1) The person's full legal name.
(2) The person's date of birth.
(3) The person's gender.
(4) The person's driver's license or identification card number.
(5) A digital photograph of the person.
(6) The person's address of principle residence.
(7) The person's signature.
(8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements."
What does this mean for America?
1. The law that created the Department of Homeland Security prohibited a national identification system. By trying to implement REAL ID, the Department of Homeland Security is breaking the law and violating the public trust.
2. The plan will create a massive national identification system without adequate privacy and security safeguards. It will also make it more difficult for people to get driver's licenses. And it will make it too easy for identity thieves, stalkers, and corrupt government officials to get access to such personal information as a home address, age, and Social Security number.
3. The regulations endanger the privacy of domestic violence survivors' personal information, exposing them to stalkers in all 50 states.
4. If the regulations are not withdrawn, then the Department of Homeland Security must FULLY APPLY all provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974 to this REAL ID system, including the right to limit the use of personal information collected by the federal government, access the data collected about them; correct any mistakes in the data; and turn to the court system to apply for redress.
5. Our new IDs will have to make their data available through a "common machine-readable technology". That will make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Bars swiping licenses to collect personal data on customers will be just the tip of the iceberg as every convenience store learns to grab that data and sell it to Big Data for a nickel. It won't matter whether the states and federal government protect the data - it will be harvested by the private sector, which will keep it in a parallel database not subject even to the limited privacy rules in effect for the government.
Impact on individuals:
* Drivers licenses will cost each American approximately $100.
o Since the federal government has appropriated only a small fraction of the necessary costs to implement REAL ID, the driver is now going to have to shoulder the burden of higher costs at the DMV.
* DMV locations will be completely overburdened.
o Lines will be longer because it will take more time to process applications.
o Mail and Internet renewals will have to be suspended.
o Individuals will have to wade through new bureaucracy in order to provide all the necessary documentation and make sure that their information is correct in multiple federal databases.
* REAL ID requires all citizens to show proof of citizenship, birth certificate and two proofs of address to acquire and renew a REAL ID. After these forms of identity are given to the DMV, the DMV must then verify that they are authentic documents.
* This requirement will be particularly difficult for:
- Senior Citizens
- Native Americans
- Victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina
- Naturalized citizens
- Victims of domestic violence
- People who live in RV's and homeless people
* As of May 2008 a Real ID is supposed to be used to board a plane or enter a federal facility. Legislation has already been proposed that would make showing a Real ID a requirement for voting, getting a job, and obtaining benefits like Medicaid. The standardized national driver's licenses created by Real ID would become a key part of a system of identity papers, databases, status and identity checks and access control points - an "internal passport" that will increasingly be used to track and control individuals' movements and activities.
o Asking people for their ID at voting polls is illegal but after REAL ID passes, government officials are making the pitch to allow REAL ID to become voter identification. This would disenfranchise many people, especially those who belong to the above mentioned constituencies.
o We believe that REAL ID is unworkable and urge the DHS to withdraw the proposed regulations and seek federal legislative action to fix the Real ID Act itself.