DHS posts new lies about the REAL-ID Act

In response to a flurry of publicity kicked off by a story last week in the New York Times in which we were quoted, the DHS has posted several new or updated pages about the REAL-ID Act on its website, including a new page headed, “REAL ID and You: Rumor Control“.

Not surprisingly, the DHS is still lying about what the REAL-ID Act requires. According to the new “Rumor Control” page on DHS.gov:

Rumor: The Department of Homeland Security is trying to build a national database with all of our information

Fact: REAL ID does not build a national database nor does it grant the Federal Government or another state access to a state’s driver’s license data. States and territories will continue to … maintain its own records, and determine who may access those records

This is a lie. The text of the REAL-ID Act, Title II, Section 202(d)(12), is clear and unambiguous:

(d) To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall adopt the following practices in the issuance of drivers’ licenses and identification cards:…

(12) Provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State.

(13) Maintain a State motor vehicle database that contains, at a minimum —

(A) all data fields printed on drivers’ licenses and identification cards issued by the State; and
(B) motor vehicle drivers’ histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.

The REAL-ID Act won’t require you to show ID to fly. But unless the REAL-ID Act is repealed by Congress, it will require states to grant all other states access to drivers license and state ID data or risk having the DHS try to harass residents of those states that don’t participate.

As we’ve discussed previously, the main point of the REAL-ID Act is to intimidate or otherwise induce state governments into creating a distributed national ID databases, through which a single query roted through a national “hub” (operated by a private contractor, the AAMVA) will be able to retrieve data, including standardized digital photographs, from the drivers’ license and ID databases of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, etc.).

The DHS is lying about what the REAL-ID Act requires because it knows that the real point of the law is the distributed national database and its contents, and because most of the opposition to the law by individuals, civil liberties advocates, and state legislators and governors is based on opposition to this distributed but functionally integrated and national database.

Since the DHS has no authority to compel state governments to “comply” with the REAL-ID Act, the DHS is relying on threats — most of them empty. The latest official statements posted on DHS.gov send a clear message to state officials trying to decide what to do about the REAL-ID Act. That message is that the DHS lies about the REAL-ID Act.

If you want to know whether the REAL-ID Act (or any provision of Federal law or regulations) even purports to require anyone to show any ID to fly, read the law: It doesn’t.

If you want to know whether the REAL-ID Act would require states that want to “comply” to connect their state drivers’ license and ID databases to the national “hub” that gives all other states root access to that database, read the law: It does.

Don’t believe the DHS lies, and don’t take DHS threats at face value.

11 Responses to “DHS posts new lies about the REAL-ID Act”

  1. Edward Hasbrouck Says:

    “REAL ID, Rumor Control, and You”
    (By Jim Harper, Cato at Liberty, January 4, 2016):


  2. Abrealist Says:

    Why is the News outlets of USA carrying the lies of the US government when the RealID Act says what they really intended its in the document. The main stream Media is being make to look like they have a gun to thier editorial head.

    The American people know the MSM doesn’t have to tell the truth. But when the undeniable facts are in the public domain. The media looks like the Department of Truth as portrayed in Orwell 1984. It’s time to stop being Fifth Columnist and realize the American people are not the Enemy. Stop being the propaganda arm of the dictates of a misguided failed bureaucracy.

  3. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Minnesota Legislative Working Group on REAL-ID Act Compliance Says:

    […] Papers, Please! Challenging ID Demands The Identity Project explores and defends the fundamental American right to move freely around our country and to live without constantly having to prove who we are or why we are here. Home The Issue Who We Are What We Do Secure Flight Featured Cases Policy Analysis Lawyer’s Corner Take Action Press Room Contact Us Friends « DHS posts new lies about the REAL-ID Act […]

  4. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » The REAL-ID Act is about the database Says:

    […] implement, of the elements of state “compliance” with the REAL-ID Act, and has tried to downplay or deny the plain language in the law requiring unrestricted interstate access to drivers license […]

  5. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » DHS doubles down on its big lie about ID to fly Says:

    […] days after posting an out-and-out lie on DHS.gov about whether states that want to comply with the REAL-ID Act have to give other states […]

  6. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Bills to repeal the REAL-ID Act introduced in Congress Says:

    […] of the REAL-ID Act including the creation of a distributed national ID database would depend on the collaboration of state government agencies. In the absence of any Federal […]

  7. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » REAL-ID Act “opt-outs” and “two-tier” ID systems Says:

    […] a gold star for REAL-ID Act compliance on anyone’s driver’s license or state ID card, the REAL-ID Act requires each state to make its entire database of information about all holders of ….  States can choose to issue noncompliant ID cards without the gold star to individuals who opt […]

  8. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » How the REAL-ID Act is creating a national ID database Says:

    […] of the big lies being told by supporters of the REAL-ID Act of 2005 is that, as the DHS says on its official […]

  9. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » The real state of compliance with the REAL-ID Act Says:

    […] REAL-ID Act requires any state or territory that wants to issue driver’s licenses or state ID cards acceptable for […]

  10. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » REAL-ID national ID database replicates problems with FBI rap sheets Says:

    […] with the REAL-ID Act — the national database of drivers license and state ID details that the DHS and supporters of the REAL-ID Act keep claiming doesn’t exist — shed new light on how the system will […]

  11. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » DHS continues to threaten states that resist the REAL-ID Act Says:

    […] compliance with the REAL-ID Act is participation in the national ID database (the one the DHS keeps claiming doesn’t exist). That database, called SPEXS, is operated by a subcontractor to the American […]

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