Sigh. The REAL ID boondoggle isn’t dead yet. Doesn’t it sound like everything the Big Govment’ haters rail against? And yet, it was passed “in the wake of 9/11”…
Currently, Illinois licenses and identification cards do not meet minimum standards mandated by the Real ID Act, which passed in 2005 in the wake of 9/11. If the Department of Homeland Security does not grant Illinois an extension, residents would need additional identification like a passport or face additional security checks to get on planes.
The act aims to thwart efforts by terrorists, con artists and immigrants in the country illegally to obtain government-issued identification. Arguments about costs, privacy and whether the additional information would actually reduce threats have delayed implementation of the law for more than a decade.
A major feature of Real ID is the verification of birth certificates, which Illinois currently does not require. The information is electronically scanned and stored in a federal database, and data can be shared easily among states and the federal government.
“It’s a large database that allows us to verify birth certificates and death certificates, things of that nature,” said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White. “It’s quite costly. We estimate, in order to utilize it and have all the birth certificates verified for Illinois drivers, it would cost about $3.75 million each year.”
White’s office estimated it would cost $100 to $150 million just for staffing, equipment and data storage. A Real ID driver’s licenses could cost an estimated $75 in Illinois. A license currently costs $30 for ages 21-68, according to CyberDrive Illinois.
That cost would largely be shouldered by Illinois drivers and taxpayers. The Homeland Security estimates it could cost $4 billion nationwide to implement the act.
States and territories were initially required to implement the program by May 2008, but the federal government delayed its start four times. Twenty-one states and four territories have been granted extensions to meet the law’s standards; 22 states and Washington, D.C., have implemented the act, according to a Jan. 30 Homeland Security statement.
Seven states — Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York — have no plans to implement Real ID. Residents of five of those states will not be able to board airplanes without additional identification like a passport starting in 2016; New York and Minnesota have driver’s licenses with enhanced security measures that will allow their residents to board airplanes, according to Homeland Security.
(click here to continue reading State eyes more secure driver’s license to avoid flying restrictions – Chicago Tribune.)
Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), a long-time opponent of the bill, says:
“I viewed Real ID as yet another unfunded federal mandate on state governments already facing tough budgets for important priorities,” Martinez said. “The proposition of a creation of a ‘one size fits all’ ID card necessary to travel was of great concern.”
and the price of implementation to the states is steep:
Brian Zimmer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License who helped draft the law’s provisions on driver’s licenses as a congressional committee staffer, said Illinois would have to construct or renovate buildings that issue licenses in order to meet security criteria, which could prove challenging.
The law prompted some states, like Wisconsin and Texas, to consolidate facilities. In Tennessee, licenses are issued from a single, secure location, he said. That means applicants get their license via mail instead of in person.
“Real ID required states to move from a business model where licensing was a revenue source to a business model where money needs to be invested in it to ensure it was done more securely,” Zimmer said. “The new model is security first, and security comes with a price.”
price, confusion, long lines, and of course, privacy theft concerns:
Critics of Real ID have complained that it is a blatant invasion of privacy and would make people vulnerable to identity theft.
Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said a government database of citizens and some of their personal information smacks of Big Brotherism and would be a gold mine for identity thieves.
“One of the troubling things is that the system to protect our data will no longer be dependent about what happens here in Illinois,” Yohnka said. “What happens in Mississippi or Maine or Montana will be a conduit to get to our data. If hackers can get into those systems, they can get to the national system.”
He noted that the state’s database of driver’s licenses has fought off tens of thousands of improper access attempts.
“From a pragmatic point of view, all this furor over something that doesn’t provide safety and security is ridiculous,” Yohnka said.
Sounds great! Can’t wait! Especially since I had such a bitch of a time getting my passport due to bureaucratic SNAFU ingrained in that system.