Kudos for Smitheus and the excellent work on Real ID as a potential wedge issue. This Orwelliian law is both a boon for organized crime and a boondoggle for state governments.
The law is also a red herring designed to deport those ubiquitous "Mexicans." It will not and cannot protect us from terrorists since all of the Sept. 11 hijackers LEGALLY entered this county, no thanks to the idiots at the State Department that issued visas to 15 Saudis that just happened to be on the Terrorist Watch List.
Identity theft is both a huge commercial and criminal enterprise. A cursory search on Google has 17.3 million items on the subject. The fact that our most private and personal information is not only readily available for criminals, but also by the government which has enacted these laws for our own good as the passport file fiasco has demonstrated.
Preventing ID theft is already a multi-billion dollar commerical enterprise, small potatoes when compared to the billions of dollars that theft of personal information drains from the economy.
The crazy thing is that corporate America has been one of the worst enablers of ID theft. Instant credit by phone and Visa debit cards are among some of the favored tools of ID thieves, not to mention unsolicited credit card offers or the deluge of junk mail that senior citizens receive.
One simple way to reduce significantly ID theft is to change some basic policies in our government agencies. For example, in order to receive a registered letter or a package from the Post Office after your letter carrier has left one of those yellow slips in your mail box you have to show ID. However, no ID is required to show in order to fill out a Change of Address form.
From almost every perspective, the 2005 Real ID Act is reprehensible. Its most obnoxious component creates in effect a national ID card by imposing draconian restrictions upon how states may issue drivers licenses. It requires the states to conduct expensive (and essentially impossible) background checks, and create and share databases with extensive personal information for all drivers. It also requires that airline passengers and anyone seeking to enter a federal building in the future must present a Real ID, or face extensive screening and delays.
There's every reason to believe that in the not too distant future, the uses of this nascent national ID card would be extended both in public and private spheres until it became nearly impossible to do without one. Furthermore, the state databases would almost certainly be fed into federal systems, including data-mining programs like Total Information Awareness (or whatever the government is calling its Orwellian program now). It's hard to believe as well that these vast state databases could be kept secure from snoopers and identity-thieves, when so many "low-level" employees will have direct, daily access to them. Real ID is a nightmarishly bad idea.
When I moved to Massachusetts, I was delighted that I could opt to have a random ID number instead of my Social Security number. Every time I show my license, I express thanks that some clerk at a mall is NOT writing down my social because I used a check to pay for that pair of Dockers.
I for one do not to turn the U.S. into the DDR. We do not need to be asked for our papers currently, and one can legally refuse to do so unless being detained by law enforcement.
It does not make one safer and errors can make traveling a nightmare. Last summer, my partner and I went on vacation. United Airlines and its outsourced operators in Mumbai (or wherever in India) screwed up her ticket, getting only half the letters correct in both her first and last name.
I was told by airline personnel at the gate that there was no way to correct the information because the antiquated computer system would delete our reservations before they corrected them. We had no problems traveling to our destination but our problems began on the return leg of the trip as she was taken for additional security screening during each stop of our trip since the boarding pass did not conform to her license.
It was a truly Kafka-esque experience and explaining it was no help to the Mayberry rent a cops employed by DHS. If anything, attempting to explain the discrepancy only heightened the tension and if it occurs in the future, it is best not to speak until spoken to as DHS employees assume you must have something to hide when you volunteer any information.
Today, both the private sector and the government, sometimes the same entity as in the case of the passport fiasco, are incapable of managing our personal information — let alone protect it from potential abuse.
If the main three Presidential contenders still standing can have their passport files looked at by a trainee than imagine how easy it would be if you have a common name.
All Real ID will do is create even bigger data bases with a greater potential for abuse. I am pleased that Obama opposes the law. I agree that this is a potential campaign issue.
IMO, Governor Schweitzer should be the Democrats point person for the subject. Tying McCain to an unpopular bill that is opposed by his own state is a good place to start. Still, there is virtually no legitimate reason for the law and it needs to be repealed before we turn into Amerika.