PASS ID: A Real ID Revival in Disguise

On June 15, Senator Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced S. 1261, the "Providing for Additional Security in States' Identification Act of 2009" or the "PASS ID Act," which repeals and replaces the Real ID Act of 2005 with new national requirements for driver's licenses. Sen. Akaka should be commended for his sincere attempt to tackle the constitutional quagmire that is the Real ID Act. Real ID is so inherently flawed that the privacy, constitutional, and security problems it presents simply cannot be fixed.

On its face, PASS ID is a significant improvement from Real ID, but some careful reading of the bill's language reveals many of the same privacy and constitutional problems. And even though PASS ID claims to be less expensive to implement than Real ID, it's still bound to be a substantial unfunded federal mandate on states and state taxpayers.

Just like Real ID, your driver's license will have to be PASS ID-compliant if you plan on using it to board an airplane or enter any federal facility more critical to homeland security than your local post office.

At an April 22 speech before the Anti-Defamation League, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano remarked in relation to Real ID: "The question is: how do you have that relationship [between individuals and their government] in such a fashion that people's privacy rights are not violated?" That's the million-dollar question of secure driver's licenses, but unfortunately, PASS ID is the wrong answer. Sen. Akaka had it right in the 110th Congress when he sponsored S.717, the Identification Security Enhancement Act, which called for a negotiated rulemaking process that brings state and federal officials and nongovernmental organizations to the regulatory table, with an emphasis on civil liberties. Such a process would secure drivers' personal information, protect privacy, and uphold the states' ability to determine the rules governing driver's licenses.

As a Governor, Secretary Napolitano led one of the 23 states that have enacted anti-real ID bills or resolutions. Thirteen states passed binding legislation prohibiting participation in the Real ID program: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Several more states are now on the way to opting-out. These diverse states share a strong respect for individual privacy rights and a state's right to control its internal affairs. They refused to participate in Real ID and expose their citizens to the harms of a national ID card. Unfortunately, they will do little better under the PASS ID Act.

The bottom line: a "Real ID lite" is still a national ID.

Add a comment (6)
Read the Terms of Use


I think 911 was seen by some politicians as a good excuse to take away people's rights and privacy.


If your going to have the government run all these programs (their track record not being so good)your not going to have any privacy what so ever.


I find it very disturbing that your organization places so much emphasis on the supposed "rights" of people who take up arms against our service men and women, yet you are so slow to defend the actions of those same men and women who are defending your right to act so un-American in the first place. Shouldn't "American" civil liberties apply to Americans first and foremost? If we have a few bad apples that is one thing, go ahead hold them responsible for their actions. But do NOT do so at the expense of American soldiers' safety.


You guys are about the most un-American organization I have ever seen. Bunch of socialists!


Hank, our rights are not being defended in Iraq or Afghanastan. The silly wars that are being waged now are not about freedom or protecting democracy. No one who has died over there has made this country any more free. We have less freedom than we did when the war begun. Why don't you try thinking critically for once instead of spewing senseless rhetoric? "American" lives are no more valuable than the the lives of other people in other countries, stop being such a disgusting racist. The insanity and torture must end. If you want to keep American soldiers safe, end the war.


Illegal, unaccountable NSA spying of our private communications, is exactly why I have joined other people who have chosen to OPT-OUT of purchasing large ticket items.

No one in their right mind would commit to hustling money to pay for things like a new car knowing our federal government, w/o probable cause, is listening-in on business deals communicated over the phone/internet. Moreover, any eavesdropping federal employee hiding behind the “Patriot Act” is likely to throw a behind-the-scene wrench in someone's confidential business deal(s) simply b/c he/she does not like that person's political take-on things.

I urge anyone who wants to put a stop to illegal surveillance to stop spending money on big-ticket items altogether. Such action will let POTUS know the current severe recession will only get worse as long as he continues to allow federal employees to engage in illegal wiretaps/surveillance on Americans.

Sign Up for Breaking News