Real ID details laid out; opposition to plan grows
Millions of Americans will have until 2013 to be outfitted with new digital ID cards as part of the Real ID program, the Bush administration says.
DHS has offered a five-year extension to the deadline for states to issue Real ID cards, and proposes creating the equivalent of a national database that would include details on all 240 million licensed drivers.
Among the program’s details:
* Real ID cards must include all drivers’ home addresses and other personal information printed on the front and in a two-dimensional barcode on the back. The barcode will not be encrypted because of “operational complexity,” which means that businesses like bars and banks that require ID would be capable of scanning and recording customers’ home addresses.
* A radio frequency identification (RFID) tag is under consideration. Homeland Security is asking for input on how the licenses could incorporate “RFID-enabled vicinity chip technology, in addition to” the two-dimensional barcode.
* States must submit a plan of how they will comply with the Real ID Act by October 7, 2007. If they do not, their residents will not be able to use IDs to board planes or enter federal buildings starting on May 11, 2008.
* Homeland Security is considering standardizing a “unique design or color for Real ID licenses,” which would effectively create a uniform national ID card.
The release of the details has created more opposition to the Real ID Act from privacy groups, libertarians and state officials, CNet reports. Last week, the National Governors Association endorsed a bill by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would reduce Homeland Security’s power to order states to comply with Real ID.
The rules, which are not final and will be subject to a public comment period, also include a more detailed estimate of how much it will cost to comply. The National Conference of State Legislatures and other state groups estimated last year that states will have to spend more than $11 billion. But Homeland Security says the total cost — including the cost to individuals — will be $23.1 billion over a 10-year period.
Opponents of the Real ID Act, who have been advising states to publicly oppose the system, said that the rules are insufficient to protect privacy.
The ACLU and more than 50 groups, including the National Organization for Women and United Automobile Workers, have endorsed a bill to repeal Real ID. The letter says it was a “poorly-conceived law that can never be made to work in any fair or reasonable manner.”
Some state governments, such as Maine, already have come out against the Real ID Act. At least eight states (including Arizona, Georgia, and Vermont) have had anti-Real ID bills approved by one or both chambers of legislature.
“Raising the security standards on driver’s licenses establishes another layer of protection to prevent terrorists from obtaining and using fake documents to plan or carry out an attack,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff rebuts in a statement. “These standards correct glaring vulnerabilities exploited by some of the 9/11 hijackers who used fraudulently obtained drivers licenses to board the airplanes in their attack against America.”