Right-Left Furor Over National ID Cards Heats Up Again in House

June 28, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – An unusual right-left coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Eagle Forum, today told the House of Representatives that legislation to standardize drivers’ licenses across the country represents a backdoor route to a national identification system.

“Congress should realize that a national ID – in any form – is little more than a superficial, ineffective quick fix that would provide the American public with a false sense of security,” said Katie Corrigan, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “This bill would implement an ineffective and expensive system that threatens freedom in America.”

The coalition’s concerns were expressed in a letter today to the House of Representatives urging Members to oppose the “Driver’s License Modernization Act of 2002” (HR 4633). The bill was introduced by Reps. James Moran (D-VA) and Thomas Davis (R-VA).

The standardization system for driver’s licenses proposed in the Moran-Davis legislation is similar to one being promoted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which the apolitical National Research Council called a “nationwide identity system.”

Signatories to the letter ran the ideological gamut from conservative, centrist and liberal advocacy groups to consumer watchdogs on both sides of the aisle to conferences of both right-leaning and middle-of-the-road state legislators.

In addition to the Eagle Forum, the ACLU, the Free Congress Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, signers included the American Legislative Exchange Council, National Conference of State Legislatures, the American Conservative Union, National Consumers League, National Council of La Raza, Americans for Tax Reform and the Identity Theft Resource Center (for a full list of signatories see the letter at: /node/21060).

The national ID system proposed by Reps. Davis and Moran would, the ACLU said, circumvent an important public and legislative debate and facilitate a surveillance society not in line with core American privacy rights and civil liberties.

“The Moran-Davis driver’s license would be the literal embodiment of the chain that is only as strong as its weakest link,” Corrigan said. “It can’t be foolproof because it’ll be based on documents that are easily forged or obtained and on technology that can be compromised.”

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