Great summary of what’s wrong with the Real ID act — with a “fax your sentators” link — please consider taking action on this. Especially if you are fortunate enough to be in a state with Republican senators (I am not). I say “fortunate” because Republicans control the Senate (and everything else). Opposition from Democrats will be less effective because it will invoke partisan polarization. Opposition from fellow Republicans would be more effective because it would turn debate to the merits of the bill rather than making it into an “us-them” shouting match.
But any debate would be good. According to this page, there has been no debate whatsoever on this bill, and it’s attached as a rider to an “easy pass” military spending bill.
What Is ‘Real ID’?
from the Hartford Courant, Oct. 30, 2001
Real ID = National ID Card
This Tuesday, the US Senate is scheduled to vote on the implementation of a national ID card system. The Real ID Act is nothing less than a Real National ID Act. The only thing left to the individual states is which pretty picture they will choose to put on the card: everything else will be controlled by Washington DC bureaucrats.
What does this mean for America?
1. Dead Cops.
The Real ID Act requires that you give your permanent home address: no PO boxes; no exceptions. What about judges, police, and undercover cops? Oops!!! Hey Senators, let’s endanger our police and judges!!!
2. Stolen Identities.
Our new IDs will have to make their data available through a “common machine-readable technology”. That will make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Bars swiping licenses to collect personal data on customers will be just the tip of the iceberg as every convenience store learns to grab that data and sell it to Big Data for a nickel. It won’t matter whether the states and federal government protect the data – it will be harvested by the private sector, which will keep it in a parallel database not subject even to the limited privacy rules in effect for the government.
3. Government Spying.
Real ID requires the states to link their databases together for the mutual sharing of data from these IDs. This is, in effect, a single seamless national database, available to all the states and to the federal government.
4. Papers, Please.
If Real ID passes the Senate, our nation will join the ranks of the old Soviet Union, Communist China, and Vietnam by issuing its citizens a national ID card. The Machine Readable Zone may come in the form of a 2-dimensional bar code – but the Department of Homeland Security, which will be crafting the regulations implementing Real ID, has made clear that it would prefer to see a remotely readable RFID chip. That would make private-sector access and systematic tracking even more easy and likely.
This national ID card will make observation of citizens easy but won’t do much about terrorism. The fact is, identity-based security is not an effective way to stop terrorism. ID documents do not reveal anything about evil intent – and even if they did, determined terrorists will always be able to obtain fraudulent documents
5. Unsafe Roads.
Once upon a time, a driver’s license was a license to drive a motor vehicle. Turning driver’s licenses into national identity cards will actually make our roads more dangerous: by barring illegal immigrants from getting a driver’s license, Real ID means more illegal immigrants will now drive without any training or certification. Your insurance company is certain to be understanding.
What’s wrong with the Senate?
The Real ID Act has never been debated on the US Senate floor. They’ve never talked about it in any committee. Heck, most of them haven’t even read it! Yet they’re planning to vote on it on Tuesday, no questions asked.
In order to make a single irresponsible Congressman with totalitarian leanings happy, the Senate leadership let him write the bill and then slipped it into a another bill, one that would keep our fighting men and women taken care of in Iraq and Afghanistan. Supporting our troops means making sure they come home to a free nation, not a surveillance state.