The federal government has taken another step towards forcing you to carry a national ID in order to get on airplanes, open a bank account, enter federal buildings, and much more. But with state legislatures and Congressional representatives increasingly turning against the REAL ID Act, you can help stop this costly, privacy-invasive mandate -- voice your opposition now.
On March 1, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released draft regulations [PDF] for implementing REAL ID, which makes states standardize drivers licenses and create a vast national database linking all of the ID records together. Once in place, uses of the IDs and database will inevitably expand to facilitate a wide range of tracking and surveillance activities. Remember, the Social Security number started innocuously enough, but it has become a prerequisite for a host of government services and been co-opted by private companies to create massive databases of personal information.
REAL ID won't just cost you your privacy. The states and individual taxpayers bear the estimated 23 billion dollar burden of implementing the law, and that figure is probably low given that the necessary verification systems don't exist yet.
And what will you get in return? Not improved national security, because IDs do little to stop those who haven't already been identified as threats, and wrongdoers will still be able to create fake documents.
REAL ID is fundamentally flawed, and DHS' proposed regulations do nothing to change that. Thankfully, the tide is turning against REAL ID in a big way -- state legislatures around the country are passing or considering legislation rejecting its implementation, and Congress is considering repealing it.
The DHS regulations mean that states must have an implementation plan ready by October 2007. Make sure your Congressional representatives support the repeal of REAL ID before it's too late.