Richmond, VA—The Department of Homeland Security today released long-anticipated regulations for compliance with the federal Real ID Act. Passed in 2005, the Real ID Act requires states to issue uniform IDs that individuals will need to board airplanes or access other federal services. Information in the ID is to be contained in a nationally-linked database. For most people, the ID will be in the form of their driver’s licenses.
The release of the regulations prompted the ACLU of Virginia to ask Governor Tim Kaine today (see letter below) to reconvene the Virginia Real ID Task Force, which was established by Mark Warner in 2005 to determine the impact of the new law on Virginia.
The report from Warner’s task force was the first comprehensive evaluation of the Real ID Act by a state, and it was highly critical of the new law. The 66-page document, released in December 2005, revealed the Task Force’s concerns about the cost to taxpayers, privacy infringements, and the burdensome procedures that will make obtaining a license far more difficult and time-consuming. The Task Force, however, was hampered by the lack of regulations from DHS.
The ACLU is preparing a checklist analysis of the Real ID regulations and will be making them available to the public within the next few days.
“We have not yet fully digested the 160 pages of regulations released today, but we see nothing so far to allay our fears,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis, who served on the Virginia Real ID Task Force. “Real ID seems to be exactly what we thought it was, namely an excuse for the government to do background checks on all of us and to have this information in one huge data bank. It the closest thing yet to a National ID.”
Since the release of the Virginia Real ID Report, bills rejecting the Real ID law have been introduced in at least 19 states.
Recently, Senator Susan Collins (Maine) introduced a proposal to delay implementation of the Act by two years. This measure, however, fails to resolve the law’s fundamental privacy and civil liberties concerns. Meanwhile, Senators Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) and John Sununu (New Hampshire) have introduced a bipartisan bill that would amend the law to provide critical privacy and civil liberties safeguards.
The Virginia report is at www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/temp/pdf/realidreport.pdf.
A copy of the ACLU's letter to the Governor is available at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20070301Real-ID-Task-Force-Let-to-Gov.pdf
Contact: Kent Willis, (office) 804-644-8022