Senate Must Fix Shortfalls in Real ID Act, ACLU Says; Panel Examines Anti-Privacy Law for First Time

March 26, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Appearing before a key Senate panel, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged Congress to examine the Real ID Act and take steps to correct the civil liberties and privacy failures in the law.

“Congress must end the real nightmare that is Real ID,” said Timothy D. Sparapani, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Lawmakers should fix the Real ID Act to safeguard our personal information. DHS’s scheme makes it open hunting season on our privacy.”

Sparapani appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia as that panel examined the Real ID Act and the proposed regulations released by the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2007, implementing the act. The ACLU’s review of the draft regulations gave DHS a failing grade from a civil liberties and privacy perspective.

Sparapani noted that this hearing is the first time the Senate is considering Real ID on its own merit. The Senate passed it in 2005 as part of a larger unrelated measure. The Real ID Act itself was not the subject of hearings or floor debate.

The Real ID Act, a national ID card system that would federalize and standardize state drivers’ licenses, will require every person in the country to have a Real ID-compliant identification document in order to fly and enter government buildings.

Local resistance to Real ID is growing. Idaho and Maine have passed resolutions rejecting participation in the ID scheme. Thirteen more states have passed similar resolutions in one legislative chamber. Bills rejecting Real ID have also been introduced in fifteen additional states, with more expected in the coming weeks. Bills to fix Real ID have been introduced by Senators Akaka and Sununu and Congressman Tom Allen.

“Congress should listen to the outcry from the states and fix Real ID,” Sparapani added. “Real ID violates the constitutional principles of federalism by usurping state authority at a cost of at least $23.1 billion. It opens a greater security loophole than it closes and undermines our fundamental privacy rights.”

The ACLU’s testimony before the Senate subcommittee is available at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/29194leg20070326.html

More on the ACLU’s concerns with the Real ID Act, including the scorecard of the regulations, is at: www.realnightmare.org

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