INDUSTRY GROUPS SUPPORT REAL ID ACT DESPITE PRIVACY CONCERNS
The Real ID Act, spearheaded by F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been passed by both houses and was signed into law by President Bush.
The Real ID Act sets standards for state driver’s licenses and other state-issued identification cards that are used for official federal purposes. To receive federal funding, states will be required to include certain data on driver’s licenses — including full name, date of birth, gender, license number, a digital photograph, address, signature, physical security features and machine readable technology.
“It’s clear that Congress recognized the opportunity for secure, smart chip technology to be used as part of programs that provide government-issued identification credentials to individuals who use them ‘for federal purposes,’” says Randy Vanderhoof, executive sirector of the Smart Card Alliance. “This makes sense since the federal government has already standardized on smart card technology for securing the identity credentials of millions of its own employees.”
Though the Real ID Act does not specify a technology, it requires that the Department of Homeland Security adopt “machine-readable technology” standards and provides discretion in how to do it.
Privacy and civil liberties advocates, however, stand against the measure.
“Immigrants and citizens alike will face an unnecessary loss of freedom and privacy,” ACLU Legislative Counsel Timothy Sparapani says. “The federalization of driver’s licenses and the culling of all information into massive databases creates a system ripe for identity theft. New standards could place private information into the hands of identity thieves.”