ACLU Of Maryland Blasts New Real ID Regulations

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
January 15, 2008 12:00 am

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Group Calls On State To Reject Unfunded, Unworkable Federal Mandate

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today is condemning the final regulations for the federal REAL ID Act issued by the Department of Homeland Security on Friday. The new regulations delay implementation of the law until 2017, but the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) has indicated it is intent to move forward in Maryland with Real ID. That is why the ACLU is calling on Maryland to join 17 other states in rejecting Real ID implementation.

Today at 2 pm, the Maryland Department of Transportation will brief the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Real ID.

“The final regulations only confirm that Real ID remains a real nightmare for Marylanders’ privacy, freedoms and pocketbooks,” said Cindy Boersma, Legislative Director for the ACLU of Maryland. “By delaying the deadline for implementation to 2017, the final regulations are a de facto admission that the law is unworkable and dangerously flawed. Under the guise of making us safer, it makes us less secure.”

The Real ID Act creates an unprecedented national identity card and mandates that states expose the personal and private information of their residents to heightened risks of identity theft and data fraud, has a national price tag in the billions of dollars, and fails to establish real security. Since January 2007, the Maryland General Assembly has been holding hearings that have revealed Real ID’s serious, fatal flaws, and that have generated increasing criticism over the MVA’s expressed intent to move forward with implementation.

“With the deadline postponed until 2017, with no federal money to help implement the Act, and with repeal bills introduced in Congress, it would be premature for Maryland to rush into implementing this unworkable scheme,” said Boersma.

The Real ID Act attempts to set federal standards for the issuance and appearance of state driver’s licenses and identification cards. These standards would have to be met in order for IDs to be accepted for “official purposes” by federal agencies, include boarding a commercial aircraft and entering federal facilities, such as federal courthouses.

The law places no limits on potential required uses for Real IDs. In time, Real IDs could be required to vote, collect a Social Security check, access Medicaid, open a bank account, go to an Orioles game, or buy a gun. The private sector could begin mandating a Real ID to perform countless commercial and financial activities, such as renting a DVD or buying car insurance. Real ID cards would become a necessity, making them de facto national IDs.

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 Marylanders’ personal information – such as Social Security numbers and photos and copies of birth certificates – and would be accessible to federal and DMV employees across the 50 states and U.S. territories.

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.

In February of 2007, Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) introduced H.R. 1117, the REAL ID Repeal and Identification Security Enhancement Act. That bill has 32 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Seven states have 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).

Click here to learn more about the Real ID Act and its history:

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