Congress enacted the Real ID act in 2005, saying it would make the nation safer from future terrorist attacks. The federal government claims Real ID would be tamper-proof and that it would make the nation more secure.
These cards will serve as more than a driver’s license, they will be ID proof acceptable nationwide because they will be based on uniform, and extensive, ID standards including an implant of an electronic device loaded with personal data.
According to testimony given before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not have an accurate estimate of how much it will cost states to meet the federal mandate requiring them to issue new driver’s licenses and identification cards. States must come into compliance by the end 2009.
DHS officials told Congress the department used “speculative” data provided by states to estimate that it would cost them about $4 billion to comply with the REAL ID law. However, an analysis done by the National Governor’s Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in 2006 estimated states would need to spend about $11 billion over five years.
Beyond the huge cost of Real ID compliance, the issue boils down to our individual right to privacy weighed against government right to require and have information about us to protect our security. Critics say the act intrudes on individual liberties, tramples states rights and won’t improve security.
Critics such as David Corr, chair of the Bibb County Libertarian Party, said Real ID would create a national ID and could lead to government mischief.
“This bill will require a data base, each state has to have a data base which is linked and must be shared under the federal law with other states, and we think the potential for abuse is great,” Corr said. “We think the potential for abuse is great. We think the government ultimately will use this to basically spy on citizens.”