Saturday, February 2, 2008

Several States Seek To Kill Federal 'Real ID' Requirements

Several States Seek To Kill Federal 'Real ID' Requirements
Thursday , February 01, 2007

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos


Risking broad penalties for their residents, lawmakers in several states are fighting implementation of the Real ID Act, a federal measure that seeks to prevent non-compliant cardholders from boarding airplanes or entering federal facilities.

Opponents say national standards for drivers' licenses would be a costly creep into the arms of big brother. Supporters say it is intended to protect Americans' from fraud and potentially terror-related crimes.

"We don't want it, we can't afford it, get rid of it," said Montana Democratic state Rep. Brady Wiseman, who authored the bill ordering the state not to participate in the federal program. The bill passed the Montana House of Representatives on Wednesday along with a companion measure, which challenges the Real ID law on constitutional grounds. Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer has spoken in favor of Wiseman's bill.

"Out West, people are very protective of their privacy and against an intrusive federal government that wants to collect a lot of data," Wiseman told before the vote. "There’s a good whiff of a corporate boondoggle around this thing and they (state lawmakers) are finding reasons to reject it. They don't see much benefit to support the cost."

Montana is just one of at least 10 states considering bills to reject the Real ID Act, signed into law in May 2005 as part of the emergency supplemental relief bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for tsunami relief. Maine lawmakers last week passed a resolution rejecting the federal Real ID legislation and calls on the state to ignore the rules. Since it is a resolution, it does not require Gov. John Baldacci's signature.

Initiated by the Republican-controlled House to keep illegal aliens from obtaining drivers' licenses and state identification and to prevent would-be terrorists from gaining access to legitimate identities, Real ID takes its cue from recommendations by the Sept. 11 commission, which said a fraud-resistant ID system is necessary for better homeland security.

"The 9/11 commission itself said travel documents are as important to terrorists as explosives. That's why Congress passed the Real ID Act," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., author of the federal bill.

In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley's nominee to be secretary of transportation, John D. Porcari, told members of the state House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the administration is trying to meet the federal deadline without disrupting services at Motor Vehicle Administration branches.

"We want to strike a balance to be fair to all our customers, make sure customer service doesn't suffer and we're compliant with federal standards," Porcari said.

Among the challenges for Maryland, however, is the fact that the Real ID requires Social Security numbers, which state driver's licenses currently do not. Additionally, Maryland is one of seven states that issues ID cards to persons who are not lawful residents.

Under the federal law, those trying to obtain a new license or state ID must prove their legal residence or citizenship through a birth certificate or another acceptable document. Tamper- and theft-resistant technology like a barcode will be put on the card.

Maryland State Rep. Ronald George, a Republican who introduced a compliance bill last year, said the federal standards are good for everyone involved. Employers can use the new identification to ensure the people they are hiring are legal, and the IDs help fight the War on Terror, for which his state, bordering the nation’s capital, is very sensitive.

“It just makes sense,” George said. “We need to get in compliance.”

But critics say REAL ID goes beyond what the Sept. 11 commission envisioned. Instead of allowing states to develop standards according to national guidelines, under the new law, the federal government is penalizing residents of states that don't comply.

"Some states have considered the possibility that if they don't comply, will all their residents have to get passports to fly?" said Matt Sundin, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which argued against the federal legislation two years ago, but is now focused on working with states to comply and keeping an eye on the states considering non-compliance.

Another challenge for states: the Department of Homeland Security, which has been tasked with administering the program, has only just finished writing the regulations, which require states to be in compliance by May 2008. The Office of Management and Budget has to review the regulations before they are opened to public comment this spring. After a review period of up to 90 days, the regulations are finally approved and put into practice, leaving states little time to get compliant.

“The department, in crafting our regulations, is aware of the time constraints and we did keep that in mind in drafting these regulations,” said DHS spokesman Jarrod Agen, adding that groups representing the state interests were involved in crafting the proposed regulations.

Critics say the cost to the states to shift over their current systems will be enormous. A study commissioned by the NCSL, the National Governors' Association and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators found that in total, Real ID will cost the states more than $11 billion to implement.

Last year, Congress appropriated $40 million for Real ID pilot funds. No funds were allocated for 2007.

An End the Law Before It's Enacted

Under the new Democratic-led Congress, several lawmakers have expressed doubts about the program and say it’s time to demand changes or a full repeal.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs oversight subcommittee, said he plans to hold hearings on Real ID. Just prior to the end of the last Congress, Akaka and Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., introduced a bill to repeal the Real ID Act.

Akaka said he wants the regulations to reflect a range of protections for individual privacy and states’ rights. He added that he wants to make sure personal data will be secured and other federal agencies and private entities won’t have access to the data. If not, he said he will work to repeal the law.

Alaska privacy activist Bill Scannell, communications director of the Identity Project and founder of the Unreal ID Web site, said he believes state pressure and new scrutiny by Congress will ultimately kill the program.

“It’s all about doing this to our own citizens. We don’t need to believe in black helicopters to see what the next line is … a national ID,” said Scannell. “It’s a big stinking pile of something repulsive."

Not all Real ID–related bills circulating through the state houses call for non-compliance or repeal. Since 2006, 13 bills have ordered the state to meet compliance rules.

And not every state lawmaker thinks REAL ID will be too costly, or will infringe on individual or states’ rights.

“We are at war in this country, and we have to step up to protect ourselves and this is part of it,” said Ronald Collins, a retired Maine state representative who last year helped usher through legislation requiring proof of citizenship for all drivers’ licenses. He said the additional requirement is little cost compared to the benefits a standardized federal ID will bring.

“If we have to put in for additional funding, so be it.”

CNS' Jonathan N. Crawford contributed to this report.

Blogwatches and Real ID guide for voters

I'd like to bring special attention to a couple of blogs to watch
Villiage Voice's Runnin' Scared column and Wired Magazine's Threat Watch. There is also a Real ID Watch blogspot in addition to Beat The Chip. GOOD Magazine will also has eyes for the verichip.


Jane Harman introduced the VERY hostile sentate bill 1959, which choked in the senate, for good reasons-maybe among them that it was considered by progressives which could be the most horrendous thought crime bill ever. California consitituents have a big responsibilitty to not let Jane move on this.

Feinstein recently wrote a letter to constituents letting them know there are designs for a "special place" for thought-crime police on college campuses.

"Thank you for writing to me about the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" (H.R. 1955). I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you may know, this bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a grant program to prevent domestic terrorism, to establish a university-based center for the study of these issues, and to conduct a survey of methodologies implemented by foreign nations to prevent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.

I agree with you that we need to protect the constitutional rights of Americans. I have been a strong advocate of civil liberties. At the same time, and in light of the September 11 tragedy, I believe we need to give our law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need to prevent and respond to future terrorist attacks. I continue to work hard to maintain this delicate balance.

As you may know, H.R. 1955 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. I do not serve on this Committee, but should the bill come before the full Senate for consideration, I will keep your thoughts in mind.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Super Tuesday is almost here I thought it would be important to bring you a Primary Election guide to Beating The Chip. *info brought to you by your local ACLU

This primary season, Americans have heard from the Presidential candidates on a wide range of issues. But where do the candidates stand on Real ID? Many of the front-runners have weighed in on the issue. This page provides their statements on the Real ID Act, and will be updated as the campaign progresses.


Against Real ID

Rep. Ron Paul (Republican)

"I do not support any Real ID program, and I would seek the repeal of all federal laws mandating a Real ID program. The Real ID Act imposes tremendous costs on state governments, yet any state that opts out will automatically make nonpersons out of its citizens.

The citizens of that state will be unable to have any dealings with the federal government because their ID will not be accepted. They will not be able to fly or to take a train. In essence, in the eyes of the federal government, they will cease to exist.

However, the most objectionable feature of the Real ID Act is that it turns state driver's licenses into de facto national ID cards, thus facilitating the massive invasion of an American's privacy, facilitating the growth of the surveillance state, and turning America into the type of country where citizens must always have their 'papers in order. -- Technology Voters Guide, January 2, 2008.

Mike Huckabee (Republican)

"...Real ID, that's a huge mistake. It's putting a burden on a state that should not be the state's function, which is to provide the frontline of national security defense at the hands of a DMV worker at a state office. That's absurd. And then not funding it. That's a real problem. If you're going to have federal program then the feds ought to pay for it." -- Real Clear Politics, September 27, 2007.

Sen. Barak Obama (Democrat)

"I do not support the Real ID program because it is an unfunded mandate, and not enough work has been done with the states to help them implement the program."-- Technology Voters Guide, January 2, 2008.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (Democrat)

"I believe we need to seriously re-examine Real ID and make changes that take into account legitimate concerns raised by states. I have long expressed concern with the Real ID Act, dating back to its initial consideration in the Senate in the spring of 2005.

Had there been an opportunity to properly consider this legislation, it would have been revealed that the Real ID Act imposes dramatic new burdens on our states and substantially changes our immigration and asylum laws in ways that deserve critical examination.

Among other things, Real ID's driver's license provisions impose a massive unfunded mandate on states, while ignoring our broken immigration system.

But there never was an opportunity to consider it properly. Senate Republicans brought this legislation up for a vote without holding hearings or engaging in serious debate, and by tacking it on to an emergency spending bill for our troops. By employing these tactics, Republicans revealed that they were determined to bulldoze this law through without serious discussion.
I support a comprehensive review of Real ID to determine whether its various ID provisions make sense in light of our very real security needs and the challenges facing our states." -- Technology Voters Guide, January 2, 2008.

John Edwards (Democrat)

"Real ID is a big step toward a national ID card, and it will open the door to government invasions of privacy and to identity theft. I support setting rigorous state standards for ID cards to keep terrorists and criminals from getting false identification. However, we need a system that protects the privacy of regular Americans and doesn't cost states $11 billion." -- Technology Voters Guide, January 2, 2008.

For Real ID

Sen. John McCain (Republican)

"The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. Consistent with these recommendations, the Real ID act established federal guidelines to prevent fraud in the issuance and acquisition of identity documents. I support full implementation of Real ID but understand that states need to be given enough time and funding to implement the requirements."-- Technology Voters Guide, January 2, 2008.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Something to investigate

Real ID enforcement is a problem. People are trying other end arounds. Ron Paul mentioned in the last blog post that he wouldn't mind giving his information to an airport security company to expedite his travel. The RFID chip has landed in conspicuously friendly terms as an "alternative" to being banked with a government database with CLEAR, a product released through Verified Identity Pass, Inc. Sound much like verichip?

My two cents on this idea is to not buy into this. It's a lot like recruiting people for the verichip to do it on their own. The government then turns to us and says, "People are paying for this service and here we are offering it to you for free!!" Not really. It comes out of your taxes in fact. You are paying the US government to be chipped by Digimarc and Input.

We have aches and pains in common getting through the humilations of airport security. I flew for the first time since 911, during the holidays. I was asked to take my shoes off and put them into an airport x-ray. Watching people do this en masse was uncomfortable. The appearance was like we were at a bowling alley : everyone was just pushing through, doing the best they can, but resenting it all the same.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ENEMY MINE: Digimarc spins Real ID resources

It makes sense that one of the best collectors of data on Real ID legislation would have been a hungry tech company eager for states to turn over Real ID business. The Real ID page on Digimarc's site looks like a virtual shrine or library, committed to the evolving history of their bread-and-butter winnings. Amid the Real ID library of information here I discovered the existence of an corporate entity known as the International Organization for Standardization.

Now why would that be scary? Why would we need international standardization for a local and state drivers ID? Well... I think it doesn't have much at all to do with passports, now that the RFID has been implemented quietly in them. It does have more to do with networking and contract oversights and birdhawking slight changes so that they can accomodate the Dept. of Homeland (In)Security.

Digimarc's stance seems auspicious now that Real ID is viewed as LAW. What's most important now is how to disallow corporate contractors, like Digimarc and INPUT, to make decisions for you about how you will live.

Digimarc, based in Oregon, sponsored the second Government ID Technology Summitt, held in Washington DC in September of 2007. Amid keynote speakers were George Valverde, Director of CA DMV and Raymond Sheppach of the National Governors Association. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the originial bill but sustained some heat after the senate confirmed Valverde last spring.

Citizens of the US should not not have to ask permission to migrate from a tech corporattion or their government. However, it will be that way if you let it.