Jun 23 2008

Department of Homeland Security Gives States $79M for REAL ID Implementation

The Department of Homeland Security announced $79 million in grants to states for implementation of the REAL ID national identification system. The funds will go to projects “such as collecting applicants’ photos at the start of the application process and incorporating additional physical security features into DLs and IDs. Other funded projects that advance REAL ID implementation, include transitioning to centralized DL and ID production, improving data records for driver’s licenses, and upgrading source document imaging and storage.”

DHS also wants the states to use the funds to create a central “verification hub that will enable states to query federal and non-federal document-issuing authorities and verify applicant source documents.” “Verification hub” is DHS’s latest euphemism for the national identification system it seeks to create by linking the motor vehicle databases of all 56 states and territories, which the agency hopes will contain data on all 240 million driver’s license and cardholders nationwide.

Twenty states have passed anti-REAL ID legislation. The latest was Arizona. Last week, its governor signed into law a bill that prohibits Arizona from implementing the REAL ID system.

Read IDP’s comments on the draft regulations here (pdf). Our privacy and civil liberty arguments remain even with the final regulations. No national identification system should ever be created, whether under REAL ID or any other scheme.

Jun 23 2008

TSA Changes Airport ID Requirement; ID-Less Could Be Denied Right to Fly

The Transportation Security Administration has changed its airport ID requirement. These changes allow the agency to deny the right to fly to individuals who “willfully refuse” to present government-issued identification at an airport security checkpoint. The TSA’s press release, which is how we learn about changes in the law, now reads in part as follows:

Beginning Saturday, June 21, 2008 passengers that willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access to the secure area of airports. This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining their identity.

This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers. Cooperative passengers without ID may be subjected to additional screening protocols, including enhanced physical screening, enhanced carry-on and/or checked baggage screening, interviews with behavior detection or law enforcement officers and other measures.

In Gilmore v. Gonzales (Gilmore was represented by The Identity Project Director James Harrison), we learned that the pre-June 21, 2008 policy allowed individuals who willfully refused to present government-issued identification to fly if they submitted to extra security screening. This new regulation is a substantial change that was made without public review through the usual Federal Register notice and comment process. Read More