On May 1, 43 organizations encouraged citizens to submit public comments to stop the nation’s first national ID system: REAL ID. The groups represent privacy, consumer, labor, civil liberty, civil rights, and immigrant organizations, such as the American Library Association, AFL-CIO, Common Cause, National Council of La Raza, and Gun Owners of America.
We are concerned about the proposed 200-million-person database containing not only full information needed to impersonate every citizen, but also high resolution scanned images of their birth certificate, marriage license, and other critical documents. The government proposes (without saying so) that anybody who doesn’t submit their info to this database and get this ID will become an “unperson” — unable to drive a car, travel by plane or train, sue or defend a lawsuit, and be barred from “any other federal” government interaction. Many people may not have the documents required to obtain a Real ID, or they may face added requirements base on arbitrary and capricious decisions made by DMV employees.
While providing zero security, the Real ID proposal causes an increased threat of counterfeiting and identity theft, offers third parties unauthorized access to machine readable info on your ID, increased cost to taxpayers, increased costs for obtaining a license or state ID card, and false promises that the Real ID is any more secure or unforgeable than current state ID cards.
Broad opposition to REAL ID already exists in the states. Montana has become the fifth state, following Maine, Idaho, Arkansas, and Washington, to prohibit its state agencies from implementing the REAL ID national ID card. Under the Act, US states, Canadian provinces, Mexican states, and the federal governments would share access to a vast continent-wide database that would include images of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers, court ordered separations, medical records, and detailed information on the name, date of birth, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, address, telephone, e-mail address, Social Security Number for more than 240 million people. History teaches us that such large collections of valuable information are always abused — and the most serious abuses arise from INSIDE the goverments that have unlimited access.
The draft regulations to implement the REAL ID Act are open for comment until 5 p.m. EST on May 8, 2007. Please act! Submit comments against this fundamentally flawed national identification scheme! Your comments can go under Docket No. 2006-0030-0001 through the public submission portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or you can submit them via a friendlier site at EFF. The first link above also includes other ways of filing, e.g. by postal mail.