The National Conference of State Legislators vs the Real ID Act
The Real ID Act of 2005 has been discussed here previously, as have some of the objections raised by both privacy advocates and the individual states.
Well, the National Council of State Legislatures has now established a separate resource on its website to arguments against the Act. Clearly, the group is opposed to the act, which its members view as an $11 billion unfunded mandate.
The site includes a series of documents covering the history of the REAL-ID Act, the status of current legislation -- including a searchable database of action at the state level -- links to critical studies, an archive of related news stories, and a clock tracking the time until the bill goes into effect.
As the May 11, 2008 implementation deadline of the Real ID Act approaches, states are facing an uncertain future. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to release regulations and Congress has appropriated only $40 million to assist states with the implementation. Without adequate assistance from the federal government and regulations to guide state efforts to implement the Real ID Act, state driver’s license security is at a stand still. According to a study conducted by NCSL, the National Governors Association and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the act will cost states more than $11 billion to implement over five years and will have a major impact on services to the public. All 245 million driver's license (DL) and identification card (ID) holders will be required to make an in-person visit to their DMV in order to obtain a Real-ID compliant license. As a result, states will need to hire more employees and expand business hours to meet the deadline.
Many people believe that creating a uniform form of identity credential across the states is an important step in security. Being against the Act on the basis of the "unfunded mandate" and the burdens that it places on the states for implementation is one thing. Contrary to the security aspect, advocates believe that there are serious privacy and civil liberties issues. Not surprisingly, the ACLU has come out in favor of a new piece of legislation, "Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2007" that in their words, would "fix" the Real ID Act of 2005. For its part, the DHS is supposed to be releasing new guidelines today, March 1 on the implementation of the Act.
I can't help but feel that many of the fears associated with the Real ID Act, and the concern over privacy are overblown. To the extent that common information could be provided on each states' drivers licenses to conform with the Act, it seems that the primary objection is over the direct costs to the states for its implementation. However, with all of the objections being raised, I have yet to read a solution that addresses the simple fact that our identity credentials are faulty, drivers licenses and other forms of identity are forged and yet, today, still, drivers licenses are the form of identity shown by most Americans when they fly domestically or simply, go to the bank to cash a check.