ACLU And Other Privacy Groups Ask Lawmakers To Oppose “Pass ID Act”

July 13, 2009 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — In a letter to key lawmakers, the American Civil Liberties Union today joined 17 other civil liberties groups to oppose the Pass ID Act, a bill that intends but failed to fix the flawed Real ID Act of 2005 designed to turn the state driver’s license into a national identity card. The coalition letter was sent in preparation for a July 15 hearing on the Pass ID Act and includes principles that should guide Congress in repealing, not fixing, the Real ID Act of 2005 so that effective driver’s license policy can be developed. While Pass ID eliminates many of the more costly Real ID requirements for the states, it leaves intact the same fundamental structure created by Real ID.

“We are united in opposing the Pass ID Act because we don’t want ‘National ID light,’” said Chris Calabrese, Counsel to the ACLU Technology and Liberty program. “Since 24 states rejected it, Real ID is dead. Cosmetic changes should not be allowed to resuscitate this ill-advised law.”

The advocates believe that in the most significant measures the Pass ID Act is the same as the Real ID Act. Beyond creating a National ID, both the bill and the law invade American’s privacy, endanger victims of domestic violence by failing to adequately shield their addresses, raise fees associated with identification cards, expose consumers to identity theft and fail to boost security. Like the privacy groups, many states oppose the de facto national ID as a waste of state tax dollars that will put privacy at risk without any security benefits. Since the Real ID Act passed, 14 states have passed statutes barring participation and 24 states in total have rejected the 2005 law.

“This bill should repeal, not fix, the Real ID Act of 2005,” said Calabrese. “The only fix in the Pass ID Act is the name. Congress might hope that the states who voted against implementing the Real ID Act will give them a pass on Pass ID, but that would be ill-advised.”

In addition to the ACLU, the privacy coalition includes the Campaign for Liberty, Citizens Against Government Waste, Consumer Action, Cyber Privacy Project,, Inc., Electronic Frontier Foundation, Equal Justice Alliance, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Liberty Coalition, National Immigration Law Center, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Privacyactivism, Privacy International, Privacy Journal, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Rutherford Institute and U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation.

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