Your Papers Please: The Real ID Act

National ID cards have been an on again/off again controversy in this country, engendering huge opposition whenever they were proposed. Now, however, thanks to recent appropriations legislation into which a national-ID provision was inserted without many people noticing, and which passed easily, a national ID card may be a done deal. The legislation that enables it is the Real ID Act and has already been discussed extensively. Nonetheless it deserves all the scrutiny it can get.

Info on Real ID:
Read the bill: Enter “hr 1268” in the search window, select “Enter bill number” and click “Search”; then click on the link for Version 3 of the bill, and search for: “TITLE II–IMPROVED SECURITY FOR DRIVERS’ LICENSES AND PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION CARDS”.
Wired article
-Instapundit has link-filled posts here and here.
-Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership raise troubling questions about the Real ID Act as it pertains to gun ownership.

Maybe the concern about this law is overwrought. I don’t know. I do know that it is unlikely to improve our security (see Bruce Schneier’s lucid critique here) but is very likely to reduce our freedoms. It’s also a distraction from implementation of more-effective security measures. It was passed almost surreptitiously, and as it seems to have been designed mainly as a tool against illegal immigration it may be that little consideration was given to concerns about privacy and freedom. That’s the way it looks, anyway. None of this bodes well.

(JPFO link via our friends at the Revolutionary War Veterans Association)

5 thoughts on “Your Papers Please: The Real ID Act”

  1. How long would the states take to make their own id programs tight and efficient if Congress just passed legislation that held the state liable for loss, injury, death, pain and suffering caused by illegals operating vehicles/equipment or accessing facilities with a legit drivers id? When the settlements start to eat the funds for education, health, and other programs, I’d suspect it would become rather important enough to get real attention.

  2. I don’t know that Congress has the authority to do what you suggest. Perhaps someone with a better understanding of Constitutional law than I have can comment.

    A bigger question is what the national ID is for. If it’s mainly intended to reduce illegal immigration, it raises the question whether it will have benefits to outweigh its obvious costs. We’ve had ID checks for job applicants since the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act and a lot of good that’s done. OTOH, if the ID scheme is mainly intended to reduce terrorism, there are strong reasons why it’s a poor way to do so (as Bruce Schneier et al have been pointing out for years).

  3. I have mixed emotions about a national ID. First is that we already have one with the social security card. Maybe the only change needed is a picture on it. And, why the push for a national ID? I will buy off on it if it helps stop illegal immigration although I do believe that it will only help stauch the flow if coupled with beefing up the border patrol and increased punishment of those who hire illegals. The other thought that comes to mind is forgery? What actions will be taken to keep forged IDs at a minimum?

  4. “[i]First is that we already have one with the social security card. Maybe the only change needed is a picture on it. [/i]”

    This is how I see it as well. We already have a form of national ID, it’s just not all that detailed. Might as well add name, picture, blood type, etc on to the thing. Personally, the bill doesn’t worry me so much when it comes to ‘freedoms being infringed upon’, but that’s simply because it’s quite easy to do so without needing another piece of plastic. I’m just hoping they make such a ‘hybrid’ ID card (that is, fuse it with the SSN card) rather than two seperate forms of ID, which would be wantonly silly (and thus, is most likely what will occur).

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