ACLU of Utah Blasts New REAL ID Regulations

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
January 14, 2008 12:00 am

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah condemns the final regulations for the REAL ID Act, issued by the Department of Homeland Security last week.

The Real ID Act attempts to set federal standards for the issuance and appearance of state driver’s licenses and identification cards, but it goes much further. Driver’s licenses and ID cards would have to meet these standards to be accepted for “official purposes” by federal agencies, which would include boarding a commercial aircraft, entering federal facilities (such as federal courthouses) and any other purpose as determined at the discretion of the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005. In February of 2007, the REAL ID Repeal and Identification Security Enhancement Act was introduced in the U.S. Congress. That bill has 32 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. To date, seven states have passed binding legislation to stop REAL ID (Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington), and 11 states have passed resolutions registering their dissent (Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Hawaii and Missourri).

“Congress needs to listen to the concerns expressed by states that must implement these regulations,” stated Karen McCreary. executive director of the ACLU of Utah. “The DHS regulations leave significant constitutional concerns completely unresolved. These regulations do nothing to fix the privacy nightmare and the expense in store for the citizens in Utah.”

In March of 2007, the Utah House of Representatives passed HR 2, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Donnelson, which called for the U.S. Congress to suspend implementation or repeal the REAL ID Act. Sixteen other states have followed Utah’s lead in rejecting the REAL ID Act.

In response to the issuing of the final regulations, Representative Donnelson (R-District 7) says, “I still have the same concerns about REAL ID. Information about Utah drivers will be put into a federal database so their personal information can be accessed by other states. And there is still no adequate funding to cover the extensive costs incurred by the state.”

If implemented, the REAL ID Act could establish an enormous electronic infrastructure that government and law enforcement officials – or whomever else might manage to hack 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, identification photos and copies of birth certificates – and would be accessible to federal and DMV employees across all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

The law requires no limits on potential required uses for REAL IDs. In time, REAL IDs could be required to vote, collect a Social Security check, open a bank account, access Medicaid 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 a de facto system of national identification.

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 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. The government and corporations could use the information captured from each transaction to develop detailed profiles of our daily activities.

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

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