Real ID Act Will Increase Exposure to ID Theft

If you think identity theft is bad now, wait until something called the Real ID Act goes into effect. This law federalizes and standardizes state driver’s licenses for all 50 states, and it will result in something that has been resisted in this country for a long time — a de facto national identity card.

The Real ID Act was pushed through Congress in 2005 with little meaningful debate. It imposes sweeping changes on state driver’s licenses that will result in significant new fees and hassles for everyone who needs a license or ID – not to mention posing a new threat to Americans’ privacy. And, our experience suggests that if Real ID becomes the standard for driver’s licenses, it will worsen the problem of identity theft.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has worked with thousands of ID theft victims, providing them with information and assistance in regaining their financial health. It usually takes months to repair the damage that ID thieves are able to cause in just a few minutes – if there’s an especially aggressive thief, it can take a year, even more. And during that time you’re in credit limbo. You can’t get a credit card, take out a loan, refinance your home – or if you do, the cost of your credit is much higher than it otherwise would be.

(The ID has RFID (radio frequency identification) chips embedded in it! – The Infinite Unknown)
A lot of what makes it so difficult for victims is that they run up against a presumption that the transactions completed in their name are legitimate. Banks, merchants, and other creditors assume that the purchases that were made and the loans that were given belong to the victim – and the victim is forced to prove otherwise.

Real ID may just strengthen that presumption. If someone succeeds in getting a counterfeit Real ID under your name, you’ll have to confront a perception that Real IDs are more secure and difficult to obtain fraudulently.

Unfortunately, we all know that these IDs will be counterfeited within hours of release – and if they are perceived as super-reliable, they will be all the more valuable and attractive as a target for crooks. Crooks have always proven to be very clever and able to make IDs look realistic, and we have no reason to doubt this will be any different. They will figure it out very quickly – or simply bribe a DMV official somewhere in the country to provide a genuine (but fraudulent) card. A number of cases of bribery at DMVs have come to light in recent years. And merchants and government clerks simply are not experts in determining whether an ID they’re looking at is the real thing.

Real ID will also create new opportunities for ID thieves to commit their crime. The law requires DMVs to store scanned copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, and any other documents that individuals present when they apply for a license. It creates a national linked database allowing millions of employees at all levels of government around the nation to access personal data. And it mandates a nationally standardized “machine-readable zone” that will let bars, merchants and other private parties scan personal data off licenses with greater ease than ever before, putting all that information into even greater circulation.

Real ID is the subject of an ongoing battle in the state legislatures, many of which are moving toward rejecting participation. Consumers concerned about privacy and identity theft might want to make their voices heard by contacting their state or federal legislators.

The ACLU’s Real ID Web site includes the status of efforts in all 50 states and what consumers can do to take action: www.realnightmare.org.

The ACLU’s Real ID scorecard, along with an explanation of each item and the grade assigned, is available at: www.realnightmare.org/resources/106 .

For more information about identity theft, see the PRC’s resources: www.privacyrights.org/identity.htm

By: Beth Givens
Posted: February 28, 2007
Source: privacyrights.org

Opposition Voices:

“Governor Sanford says that even if the state paid for everyone in South Carolina to get a passport it would be cheaper than complying with the Real ID program.”

“Real ID Deadline Approaching,” WCBD News, March 10, 2008. Online>

“The government claims that driver’s license “reform” will help combat illegal immigration and generally protect national security, but it fails to acknowledge that the Real ID Act seriously threatens privacy and civil liberties on a national scale.”

–Sophia Cope of Center for Democracy and Technology, “Why Real ID is a Flawed Law,” CNET News, January 31, 2008. Online>

“Final rules for Real ID cards don’t put privacy, security concerns to rest.”

–William Jackson, “Unease persists on Real ID,” Government Computer News Commentary, Janury 28, 2008. Online>

“We’re defending privacy rights by becoming the fifth state in the country to say no to the heavy-handed Real ID legislation from the federal government, and I thank each one of you who voiced your opinion in that important debate tied to the larger principle of limiting federal power.”

Goveror Mark Sanford, South Carolina from his January 16, 2008 State of the Sate speech Online>

“In its own guidance document, the department has proposed branding citizens not possessing a Real ID card in a manner that lets all who see their official state-issued identification know that they’re “different,” and perhaps potentially dangerous, according to standards established by the federal government. They would become stigmatized, branded, marked, ostracized, segregated. All in the name of protecting the homeland; no wonder this provision appears at the very end of the document.

— Richard Forno and Bruce Schneier, C-NET News, May 3. 2007. Online >

“We are, after all, for the first time in our history actually creating a national identification card with all the ramifications of that. That is what the Real ID law did.”

— Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

“The Real ID Act is not real. It is a bizarre policy fiction with murky goals. Once billions of public treasure is expended and the government has complete control over who you say you are, and the next Mohammed Atta would still be able to obtain a state driver’s license, it will be too late to reverse course…”

— Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State, “Real ID Act Won’t Protect Us,” Bangor Daily News, February 16, 2007.

“Identification is a powerful force for willing participants in our economy and society, but it will genearlly have little influence over terrorists. They neither seek the benefits of our society nor are they deterred by knowing they will be hld accountable after they act. Identifying people merely tells you who they are. It does not reveal terror attacks beforehand.”

— Jim Harper, “A Primer on the Real ID Act: Will the US Have a National ID Card?ALEC Policy Forum, Summer 2006. (PDF)

…[Real ID] carries the potential unintended consequence of establishing a “gold standard” for fraudulent activity. A fraudulently obtained “national license” could open doors for terrorists in situations that previously might have required supporting or secondary documentation or identification.”

— Sen. John E. Sununu, “Real ID: Unnecessary, Unfunded, and Unlikely to Make You Safer,” Manchester Union Leader, May 17, 2006.

“Big brother is bad enough. Do you really want him working for the DMV?”

–Knute Berger, Seattle Weekly, January 18, 2006. Online >

Read more opinion pieces and commentary on Real ID here.

“Real ID Act provisions would be so difficult for states to implement, the bill would undermine an initiative that can make the nation safer from terrorism.”

Senators John Sununu (R-NH), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (pdf)

Read more of what Government Officials and National Organizations are saying about Real ID here.

“H.R. 418 would impose technological standards and verification procedures on states, many of which are beyond the current capacity of even the federal government. Moreover, the cost of implementing such standards and verification procedures for the 220 million driver’s licenses issued by states represents a massive unfunded federal mandate.”

National Governor’s Association, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, National Conference of State Legislatures, and Council of State Governments, letter to Senate leaders

Read more letters opposing Real ID here.

“…If the objective is to create a national identification card, that prospect should be widely and publicly debated. If a national ID is the consensus public policy, then the federal government should administer and pay for it. Forcing the states to create one out of a crazy quilt of 50 different licensing systems serves neither national security nor fiscal reality.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 17, 2006; Online >

 

What Government Officials and National Organizations are saying about Real ID:

“…[Real ID] carries the potential unintended consequence of establishing a “gold standard” for fraudulent activity. A fraudulently obtained “national license” could open doors for terrorists in situations that previously might have required supporting or secondary documentation or identification.”

— Sen. John E. Sununu, “Real ID: Unnecessary, Unfunded, and Unlikely to Make You Safer,” Manchester Union Leader, May 17, 2006.

“Real ID Act provisions would be so difficult for states to implement, the bill would undermine an initiative that can make the nation safer from terrorism.”

Senators John Sununu (R-NH), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (pdf)

“Standardization of driver’s licenses has long been recognized as a bureaucratic back-door to implementation of a national ID card. With its required linking of databases and ability of the Secretary of Homeland Security to require a prescribed format, HR 418 takes us well along that road.”

American Conservative Union, Gun Owners of America, League of United Latin American Citizens, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Republican Liberty Caucus, among others, coalition letter to Congress

“What passed is something that will be an enormous amount of work and it’s questionable what it’s going to yield. Is it going to yield national security or is it going to be hassle for people already complying with the law?”

Matt Dunlap, Secretary of State of Maine

“H.R. 418 would impose technological standards and verification procedures on states, many of which are beyond the current capacity of even the federal government. Moreover, the cost of implementing such standards and verification procedures for the 220 million driver’s licenses issued by states represents a massive unfunded federal mandate.”

National Governor’s Association, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, National Conference of State Legislatures, and Council of State Governments, letter to Senate leaders

“Real ID will harm thousands of battered women and children, including US citizens and permanent residents, and will erode critical protections passed by Congress … Real ID erodes 10 years of progress in the campaign to end domestic violence.”

National Organization of Women, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and others, coalition letter to the Senate (pdf).

“[The Real ID Act] would undermine our system of checks and balances by stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction to review erroneous rulings in deportation cases, opening the door to drastic consequences in many cases.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and other organizations, coalition letter to the Senate

“Let’s not ask states to make their driver’s license a national passport. And for heaven sakes, let’s not put people who are right now behind the counter of a DMV, who are not trained to be INS agents or FBI or CIA, suddenly make these folks who don’t earn enough money as it is, take on the burden of screening out terrorists.”

Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR)

“The Real ID Act would move America beyond a de facto national ID to new “Big Brother” territory of a de jure national identity document.”

The American Policy Center, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and others, coalition letter to Senate

“REAL ID would require all individuals to use their principal residential address on their driver’s license or state identification card. … For people fleeing domestic abuse or stalking, the option to use an alternate address is not a matter of convenience or preference; it can be a matter of life or death.”

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and others, coalition letter to the Senate.

“REAL ID ignores state-based solutions in favor of federally imposed and unfunded mandates. It also fails to address several baseline questions that states need answered to evaluate and implement the act’s requirements.”

Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) and Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR), letter to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

“We have had no hearings, no debate, no votes in the Senate on this so-called REAL ID Act.”

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)

“Ramming unpopular bills like REAL ID through Congress by attaching them to “must-pass” spending bills is a political strategy for avoiding a hearing and debate that could kill the bill.”

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

“Realizing government’s tendency towards mission creep, no one should be surprised if this database grows to contain far more information than that which is relevant to driving. . . . There is no limit to what other information may eventually be contained in the database — something which should definitely concern gun owners.”

Gun Owners of America

“If you didn’t have a headache before this, you’d have one now.”

Nebraska State Sen. Tom Baker (44th District – Trenton)



 

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