ACLU Praises Akaka-Sununu Real ID Repair Proposal, Says Measure Provides Needed Privacy and Civil Liberties Safeguards

February 28, 2007 12:00 am

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> ACLU Slams Draft DHS Regulations on Real ID, Says Delay Fails to Address Privacy and Civil Liberties Concerns (3/1/2007)
> ACLU: Senator Collins’ Real ID Amendment is Not a Real Solution; Proposal Fails to Address Law’s Fundamental Flaws (2/28/2007)

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed the introduction of a bipartisan measure authored by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and John Sununu (R-NH) that would add critical privacy and civil liberties safeguards to the Real ID Act. Their proposal, the "Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2007" would fix several shortcomings of the controversial Real ID Act adopted by Congress.

"There’s growing consensus among state governments that Real ID is a real bad idea," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The Akaka-Sununu bill fixes many of the fundamental problems with Real ID. By mandating safeguards for privacy and civil liberties, Congress can take steps to end the real ID nightmare."

The Real ID Act was adopted as part of a must pass military appropriations bill. Real ID federalizes the design, issuance and management of state driver’s licenses, creating a uniform identity card and database tantamount to the first national ID card. Residents of states that fail or refuse to comply with Real ID will be unable to use their driver’s licenses for any activity that requires federally accepted identification, such as boarding airplanes or entering federal buildings.

The Akaka-Sununu bill would eliminate most of the requirements that laid the foundation for a National ID card, such as the obligation that all data and systems be standardized. The proposal also changes the approach to drivers’ licenses by calling for more flexible standards instead of the current uniform mandates. Significant privacy protections in the proposal include prohibiting the use of license data by third parties, encryption of the data and adherence to state privacy laws that may provide greater protection. In addition to Senators Akaka and Sununu, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are original co-sponsors of the bill.

In addition to the Akaka-Sununu bill, Congressman Tom Allen (D-ME) has also introduced similar legislation in the House. His bill, H.R.1117, the "Real ID Repeal and Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2007," addresses many of the same problems with the Real ID Act.

In January, the state of Maine passed a resolution rejecting participation in the Real ID scheme. Similar legislation has been adopted by one state legislative chamber in Georgia, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. Bills rejecting Real ID have also been introduced in Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Washington and West Virginia, with more expected soon.

"The Real ID Act is an $11 billion unfunded mandate that violates our fundamental Constitutional freedoms while doing nothing to make us safer," said Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Congress needs to pass the Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2007."

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the Real ID Act, go to:

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