Search This Blog

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I am proud of my state for passing a law (AZ House Bill 2677) that basically prevents the enactment of the Real ID Act in Arizona. I am equally proud of Governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, for signing it into law on Tuesday, June 17. In case you have forgotten, the Real ID Act mandates a universal driver’s license issued by each state, with personal data on each individual citizen to be compiled in a national database of sorts.

This massive amount of private information on individuals will be controlled by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the agency has already said it might add to the state-supplied driver’s license data. I remind you that the government is responsible for 20 percent of all data breaches.

In the beginning, DHS said that non-compliance would prevent state’s residents from participating in some federal programs, most importantly, not being able to board airline flights through the federally operated Transportation Security Administration (TSA). But in January DHS Secretary Chertoff said that other forms of identification will be acceptable to fly. DHS had originally granted an extension for compliance to all states until December 31, 2009, and then, again in January 2008, further extended it until 2014, 2017 for those over age 50. More info from DHS here, and a detailed explanation from Wikipedia here.

Homeland Security says this is not a national ID card, but what else can you call it? With a shared pool of information containing the most sensitive of personal consumer data available to all the states plus the federal government, and one similar ID card carried by every citizen in the U.S. as their identification, I’ll let you decide what we call it. Anyway you label this planned monstrosity, in the end it will still result in a new, ready-made source for identity thieves.

Aside from invading the privacy of every American citizen, the cost that would be borne by states is prohibitive. In a joint report from the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, and American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the cost nationwide would be more than $11 billion. When DHS handed down the final regulations on compliance in January of this year, several observers indicated the delayed deadline would do little to ease funding concerns, according to The delay is thought to reduce that $11 billion to about $4 billion, however.

Jeremy Meadows, senior committee director for the National Conference of State Legislatures confirms that, “despite the concessions, DHS didn’t heed a number of other requests from states. Funding and privacy concerns appear to have gone ignored.”

Homeland security hasn’t yet made a final decision on just how the central collection of personal data will be organized, as well as how it will be shared. At this point it is very confusing re. what the level of intrusion into individual privacy will be. What we do know is that if the Real ID Act does take effect, that alone will be an invasion of our privacy. See more FAQs on Real ID here.

No comments: