ACLU Issues REAL ID Scorecard, Urges Lawmakers to Pass Legislation Rejecting REAL ID

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
January 17, 2008 12:00 am

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PHOENIX – In light of the recent release of the Department of Homeland Security regulations for the Real ID Act, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today issued a renewed call to Governor Napolitano and the Arizona Legislature to work together to reject the REAL ID Act, which would federalize state driver’s licenses and create the nation’s first-ever de facto national identity card system.

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security issued its final regulations for the implementation of the 2005 Real ID Act, essentially delaying implementation of the law until 2017.

An ACLU analysis of the DHS regulations reveals that the regulations still address only 9 percent of the 56 commonly-identified problems with the act that have been identified by a variety of parties, including privacy activists, domestic violence victims, religious leaders and DMV administrators.

“The government has tried to peddle these regulations as lifting the burdens that Real ID imposes on the states and the population,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “But the close, issue-by-issue analysis of the regulations we carried out for this scorecard reveals that Real ID’s problems remain unresolved.”

Of the 56 problems, the regulations successfully addressed or “passed” 6 (11 percent), scored an incomplete on 12 (21 percent), and failed 38 (68 percent).

“These regulations are simply an attempt to put a pretty face on an ugly, dangerous law,” Meetze added. “Now is the time for the Arizona Legislature to send a clear message to Congress that the REAL ID Act must be repealed.”

If implemented, the Real ID Act could establish an enormous electronic infrastructure that government and law enforcement officials – or whoever else hacks in – could use to track Americans’ activities and movements. This vast network of interlinking databases would contain enormous amounts of Americans’ personal information – such as Social Security numbers, photos and copies of birth certificates – and would be accessible to federal and DMV employees across the 50 states and U.S. territories.

“This national mega-database would be a goldmine for identity thieves,” Meetze said. “There’s no reason that a DMV worker in Guam should be able to see a grandmother in Sun City’s Social Security number. Our private information would only be as safe as the DMV or state office with the weakest security system.”

The law also mandates that all driver’s licenses and ID cards have a “machine-readable zone” that would facilitate tracking by the government and private sector. Real IDs would leave a digital fingerprint whenever swiped, scanned or read. Inevitably, Americans will likely have to produce a Real ID card to perform any number of government and commercial transactions. Information captured from each transaction could be used by the government and corporations to develop detailed profiles of people’s daily activities.

Last year, the Arizona Senate approved legislation opting out of the federal law because of serious privacy concerns.

The ACLU is lobbying in support of state and federal legislation that would repeal title II – the driver’s licensing provisions – of the REAL ID Act of 2005.

In Arizona, Rep. Judy Burges, R-4, said she will introduce legislation this session to prohibit Arizona from enforcing Real ID. At the federal level, there are two bills titled “The Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2007” that would fix REAL ID. Senate Version, S. 717, is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), and is cosponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The House Version, H.R. 1117, is sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) and is cosponsored by 27 other lawmakers.

Seven states passed binding legislation to stop Real ID (Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington), and 10 additional states have passed resolutions registering their dissent (Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Hawaii and Missouri).

To learn more about the Real ID Act or read about its history, visit

The DHS regulations are available on-line at:

In conjunction with its scorecard, the ACLU also released a white paper today challenging DHS for “grossly underestimating” the costs of Real ID.

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