Threatening Your Privacy Through an Unfunded Government Mandate
The federal government is trying to force states to turn your drivers license into a national ID. Unless you tell your state legislator to push back the Real ID Act will create grave dangers to privacy and impose massive financial burdens without improving national security in the least.
Signed into law in May 2005 without meaningful debate the Real ID Act states that drivers licenses will only be accepted for "federal purposes"—like accessing planes trains national parks and court houses—if they conform to certain uniform standards. The law also requires a vast national database linking all of the ID records together.
Once the IDs and database are in place their uses will inevitably expand to facilitate a wide range of surveillance activities. Remember the Social Security number started innocuously enough but it has become a prerequisite for a host of government services and been coopted by private companies to create massive databases of personal information. A national ID poses similar dangers; for example because "common machine-readable technology" will be required on every ID the government and businesses will be able to easily read your private information off the cards in myriad contexts.
Real ID won't just cost you your privacy. The federal government didn't give the states funds to implement the law and overcome its many administrative burdens so the billions of dollars in costs will be passed down to you in the form of increased DMV fees or taxes.
And what will you get in return? Not improved national security because IDs do nothing to stop those who haven't already been identified as threats and wrongdoers will still be able to create fake documents. In fact the IDs and database will simply create an irresistible target for identity thieves.
It's not too late to fight back—state legislators can still resist implementing the Real ID Act and force Congress' hand. Learn more about Real ID through the links below and tell your representatives to oppose the Real ID Act.
EFF Related Content: Real ID
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- The Real ID Act united in opposition groups that normally oppose each one another, including the NGA, the National Rifle Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and numerous religious and privacy organizations.
- Richard Esguerra, the EFF’s residence activist, said in a telephone interview Monday and in a recent blog post that the giant database, if it ever comes to fruition, “threatens citizens’ personal privacy without actually justifying its impact or improving security.”