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Carolyn Wicker Felicia Canow Composition II April 24, 2009

Is it the Real Deal or an Invasion of Privacy? More than 100 protestors descended upon Concord, New Hampshire’s State House Lawn on April 22, 2006. Some were wearing Nazi uniforms waving signs proclaiming, “Say Yahvol to Real ID”, while others wearing three-cornered hats shouted at them, “No ID, you won’t see an ID from me, it’s my right!” (New Hampshire). Many others waved signs reading, “Live Free or Die,” “No Real ID,” “Real ID” slashed out, and “Don’t Tread on Me” (“New Hampshire”). Several speakers were scheduled to speak. Representative Elbert Bicknell, a Deerfield, NH Republican, began his speech by claiming a national ID will not protect US citizens, but will invade privacy instead. Other speakers included Dr. Katherine Albrecht, author and Director of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering), and then Candidate for Congressman Carol Shea-Porter (She has since been elected) (“New Hampshire”). What were they protesting? The Real ID Act that passed in Congress in 2005. The 9/11 Commission Report published in 2004 is where the idea for this Act began. The Commission found during their investigation that hijackers were able to obtain false documents and IDs to board commercial airlines. The Commission recommended that: “Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses” (9/11 Commission 390). F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. wrote the Act and introduced it to the House in 2005. The house passed it, then the Act went stagnant. Later that year, Representative Sensenbrenner attached it as a

Wicker 1 Carolyn Wicker Felicia Canow Composition II April 24, 2009 Is it the Real Deal

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rider onto a massive military defense and tsunami relief bill (“Real ID Act”). It passed without debate, and President Bush signed it on May 11, 2005. The Real ID Act states, “A federal agency may not accept a driver’s license or personal identification card (DL/ID) after May 11, 2008, unless the state has been certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in consultation with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to meet the requirements of the law” (“Real ID Act of 2005”). Because there was no real debate, the United States Government is proceeding with the law as prescribed. Andy Williams, contributing writer for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) reports that AAMVCA has created a Real ID Task Force. This Task Force was created to work with the Department of Homeland Security and state groups, “to prepare formal input regarding the issues, impacts and recommendations to ensure the Real ID Act is implemented in a practical and successful manner” (Williams). Many states, including Kansas, has ensued in preparations to comply. Anna Staatz, writer for the Topeka Capital Journal quotes Carmen Alldritt, director of the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Division of Vehicles: “The intent is that people are who they say they are, live where they say they do and were born where they say they were. There are always going to be some people, for whatever reason, intent on defrauding the system” (Staatz). According to Alldritt, Kansas State requirements already exceed any minimum federal mandate (Staatz). Anne Broache of CNet News, quotes Stewart Baker of Homelands Security: “Real ID has a bad bumper sticker reputation, but what it boils down to is a set of standards for obtaining driver's licenses, so it's harder to obtain fraudulent driver's licenses” (Broache). Broache further states that DHS is pushing states “pretty hard” to comply, and reports that 45 states have received an extension, but that 5 states “have said they will not comply” (Broache). As a result of the before mentioned protest, New Hampshire is one of those states, as well as Maine, Montana, South Carolina, and Delaware. These and other states and organizations contend this act gives the government too much power, and forgets about the individual. Simply going along with it because it was passed by congress, does not set well with them. Their stance is much like what Vaclav Havel wrote: “Because of this dictatorship of the ritual, however, power becomes clearly anonymous.

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Individuals are almost dissolved in the ritual” (Havel 409). The rights of individuals is why these and several other states have passed state legislation that they will either not comply, postpone until there is funding, or want the Act scrutinized before compliance. According to one lawmaker: “For many Montanan lawmakers, Real ID is a privacy issue and a violation of state's rights. Montana legislators claim that Real ID requirements amount to a de facto national identification card and will lead to the creation of a national database on private citizens, claims that are denied on the Real ID Web site” (Gentile). Montana is not the only state lamenting this stance. Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program reports: “Alaska has joined a growing nationwide movement against Real ID, and by allowing this legislation to become law, Governor Palin has made Alaska the 9th state to pass a law prohibiting compliance” (“Alaska”). Other states, including the state of Oklahoma , has passed similar anti-Real ID Act legislation while requesting an extension for compliance. Oklahoma’s senate bill passed in 2007 states:

The Governor of the State of Oklahoma, …, is authorized to delay compliance with certain provisions of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, …, until it is expressly guaranteed by the United States Department of Homeland Security, …, that implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 will not compromise the economic privacy or biological sanctity of any citizen or resident of the State of Oklahoma (“Oklahoma Act”). So far at least 11 states have approved legislation barring the compliance of this Act; Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. Protestors rallied this past January (2009) in Virginia against the Act resulting in the Governor signing a bill limiting Real ID in that state, and will become law July 1, 2009. Some sources state an additional 32 states petitioned Congress to rescind or significantly amend the statute. Why are so many protesting? Many people believe this Act will impose on privacy, and the ID’s will actually “track” our movements. Who wants “Big Brother” to know our every move? This has been

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one of the biggest fears of this country. It is freedom this country is based on, and is it freedom if we cannot move around without the government knowing our every move? To protect our freedom, Martin Luther King Jr. says it best: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (515). Privacy and individual states rights are not the only issues. The cost of the program for states needing to upgrade their technology is another. According to Dave Eberhart, Newsmax Media, “…, full compliance has been estimated to eventually cost the states from $11 billion to as much as $17 billion, according to DHS. … , it has been estimated that compliance with Real ID could cost cash-strapped California up to $700 million” (Eberhart). One anti-Real ID organization reports, “Specifically, 18 of 19 states, or 95%, reported that available grant funding was insufficient. Several states referred to the amount received as a ‘drop in the bucket’” (Real In a report from Audrey Hudson in the Washington Times, Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona and now Director of Homeland Security, states, “My support of the Real ID Act is, and has always been, contingent upon adequate federal funding. Absent that, the Real ID Act becomes just another unfunded federal mandate” (Hudson). She said governors need options to make identification more secure, but not necessarily “under the rubric of Real ID” (Hudson). Real ID supporters do not understand what the big deal is. They ask, if we state who we are, where we live, and where we were born, does that really invade our privacy? Obviously many people believe it does. It is noted over and over in several reports, this Act wasn’t fully debated in congress. The Act was slipped in on a “must pass” bill (Blake). The fact this Act met no deliberation is a major concern. This is supposed to be a democracy, voted by the people, not a single person or group of people in congress. Since 9/11, there have been a number of acts and events considered wrong or even criminal instigated by our government. These events compare to what Henry David Thoreau wrote: “This American government,—what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity?” (373). Some believe the manner in which this law passed through congress is certainly a loss of integrity.

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What is going to happen to this bill? The effect of these protests and state legislations has resulted in the delay of compliance requirements. Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, and it took effect in May 2008. States have until December 2011 to comply, and individuals over 50 need not comply until 2017. Wilson P. Dizzard III of the Government Computer News (GCN) said that some Real ID advocates believe that if (and when) the law prosecutes criminals that have forged documents, and perhaps have gotten away with it for years, that eventually this positive result will influence state governments toward compliance (Dizzard). The citizens’ of those states that do not comply, will be singled out and go through much red tape to travel or enter federal buildings. Dizzard further states: “If the most obdurate states, like Oklahoma, continue to refuse to comply, their driver's licenses could, in effect, become red flags, according to some observers” (Dizzard). As to whether this Act will finally be implemented is undetermined. According to EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), “During the history of the national ID card debate in the United States, Americans have consistently rejected the creation of such a system” (“Real ID Implementation”). They further state, “The Health, Education and Welfare Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems in 1973 again rejected the creation of a national identifier and advocated the establishment of significant safeguards to protect personal data” (“Real ID Implementation”). Whether this particular Act or another “option” is found, this protest has certainly been successful. It is possible the execution of this Act will be completely overturned with the new administration. According to Hudson, Miss Napolitano is looking into other options, “specifically Washington state's security-enhanced driver's licenses acceptable for crossing into the state from Canada” (Hudson). We may eventually be subject to some sort of national regulations regarding our personal identification, but due to such opposition and resistance, either this Act will be amended (the original already has been amended at least once) or overturned, and more legislation will be written to protect our individual freedom.

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Works Cited “Alaska Becomes 9th State to Reject Real ID” 29 May, 2008. American Civil Liberties Union. <>

Blake, Matthew. “Is Real ID Really Going to Happen? The National Identification Law Was Supposed to Take Effect This Week.” 12 May, 2008. The Washington Independent. <>

Broache, Anne. “DHS: Real ID is 'pro-consumer' and 'antiterrorism'.” 4 March, 2008. CNet News. 30 March, 2009. <>

Dizzard III, Wilson P. “States Fall in Line with Real ID. 7 March, 2008. Government Computer News. 31 March, 2009 < real-id.aspx>

Eberhart, Dave. "Privacy, Costs May Be Death of Real ID Act." Newsmax (Jan 8, 2009): NA. General OneFile. Gale. Johnson County Community College. 13 Apr. 2009 <>.

Gentile, Annie "Montana continues opposition to Real ID Act." American City & County (Online Exclusive) (April 10, 2009): NA. General OneFile. Gale. Johnson County Community College. 11 Apr. 2009 <>.

Havel, Vaclav. “The Power of Powerlessness.” Ideas Across Time. Igor Webb. New York: McGraw Hill. 2008. 404-405.

Hudson, Audrey. “Napolitano debates Real ID: Will Examine Alternatives to Driver’s Licenses.” 20 February, 2009. The Washington Times. 14 March, 2009

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King Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Ideas Across Time. Igor Webb. New York:

McGraw Hill, 2008. 511-525.

“New Hampshire out of the National ID!”, 20 March, 2008, 15 March 2009, < >

New Hampshire REAL ID Protest. Prod. Political 2006.


Oklahoma Act of 2007. SB 464. 21 April, 2007. Stat. 51-1-1506 “Real ID Act.” 9 April, 2009. Wikipedia. 10 April, 2009.


“Real ID Act of 2005, Driver’s License Title Summary.” 2009. National Conference of State Legislatures. 30 March, 2009 <>

“Real ID Implementation Review: Few Benefits, Staggering Costs, Analysis of the Department of Homelands Security’s National Id Program.” May 2008, Electronic Privacy Information Center, 24 March, 2009 <>

Real 2009. American Civil Liberties Union. 15 March 2009 <>

Staatz, Anna. “Real ID finds Kansas in Drive.” 18 February, 2007. The Topeka Capitol Journal. 1 April, 2009. <>

“The 9/11 Commission Report.” 22, July 2004. 30 March, 2009. The 9/11 Commission <>

Thoreau, Henry David. "Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government),” Ideas Across Time. Igor Webb. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 371-383.

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Williams, Andy, “Real ID Act Faces Real Challenges.” American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. 31 January, 2006, 27 March, 2009, < lenges.htm>