ACLU of Massachusetts Calls for Rejection of Real ID, Draft DHS Regulations Ignore Privacy and Civil Liberties Concerns

March 2, 2007 12:00 am

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BOSTON – The ACLU of Massachusetts today called for Massachusetts to join the growing number of states considering rejection of the flawed “Real ID” national identity card program.

Under the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 as part of a military appropriations bill, state drivers licenses will no longer be acceptable for federal ID purposes, such as getting on an airplane or entering a federal courthouse, unless the state complies with federal requirements.

Real ID’s creation of a centralized database of personal information on virtually every American is also a potential treasure-trove for identity thieves. Yet Real ID will do little to prevent identity theft or terrorism, as proponents claim. Recognizing that many Americans do not have access to the documents required to obtain a Real ID, new draft DHS rules allow exploitable exemptions.

“Real ID is a real nightmare,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “This flawed plan will make personal data more vulnerable to misuse and identity theft, yet do little to improve security. The draft regulations do not allay our concerns.”

Draft regulations released yesterday by the Dept. of Homeland Security offer an extension until the end of 2009 for states to comply with the creation of the national ID card-but they fail to address the serious privacy and civil liberties concerns and will impose billions in costs on states.

Real ID will require states to completely rework their systems for issuing drivers licenses at significant cost, and would require everyone in the country to produce documents such as birth certificates to apply for, or renew, the new ID, and to have those documents verified by state vital records offices.

“Yesterday’s announcement that states can apply for more time to comply is just one sign of how serious the problems are with Real ID. But stalling doesn’t address the fact that this law was a bad idea in the first place,” said Rose. “Congress should pursue proposals like the Akaka-Sununu bill or the Allen bill to restore privacy protections. And in Massachusetts, we applaud Senator Richard Moore for introducing a bill to block the implementation of Real ID here.”

Across the country, many states have begun to resist Real ID. In January, Maine became the first state to reject participation in the Real ID Act. Proposals against Real ID have also passed one chamber in eight states, and similar bills have been introduced in at least a dozen other states.

More information on Real ID is available from the national ACLU at: www.realnightmare.org

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