Bush Administration’s Final Real ID Regulations Still Fail the Grade, ACLU Scorecard Shows

January 17, 2008 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – A systematic analysis of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final regulations for the Real ID Act reveals that the regulations still address only 11 percent of the problems with the act that have been identified, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

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

The ACLU’s analysis of the DHS regulations is based on a list of 56 problems that have been commonly identified with the Real ID law by a variety of parties, including privacy activists, domestic violence victims, anti-government conservatives, religious leaders and DMV administrators. Of the 56 problems, the regulations successfully addressed or “passed” 6 (11 percent), scored an incomplete on 13 (23 percent), and failed 37 (66 percent).

“When DHS issued proposed regulations in March, they passed 9 percent,” said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Tim Sparapani. “Despite the outpouring of public feedback they received – an astounding 21,000-plus comments from the public – and 9 additional months of work, their passing score has barely budged and their incompletes have risen only slightly. It’s as if Secretary Chertoff covered his ears and pretended he couldn’t hear the public’s protests. Since legitimate complaints were ignored willfully by DHS, it is now clear that Congress needs to step in and fix what DHS will not.”

The scorecard was a response to Homeland Security’s long-awaited release of final regulations Friday implementing the 2005 Real ID Act, which would federalize state driver’s licenses and create the nation’s first-ever de facto national identity card system. Extensive delays in issuing these regulations have exacerbated state complaints, 17 of which have rebelled by passing anti-Real ID legislation.

Early reactions indicate the new regulations are not being embraced in the states; yesterday the XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />Virginia legislature held a hearing on a bill opting the state out of Real ID, and a new bill is expected to be introduced in West Virginia shortly. In conjunction with its scorecard, the ACLU also released a white paper today challenging DHS for “grossly underestimating” the costs of Real ID.

“On so many of the hard issues, DHS has kicked the problems down the road to the next administration and beyond,” said Steinhardt. “They are trying to stretch out this bitter medicine to get the states and the American people to swallow it, but what this scorecard shows is that once it’s down it will still be poison.”

The ACLU’s Real ID scorecard is online at:
/safefree/general/33700res20080117.html

The ACLU’s white paper, “Fuzzy Math and the Real Cost of Real ID” is online at:
www.aclu.org/safefree/general/33690res20080116.html

Both can also be found at:
www.realnightmare.org.

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