In April, there were rumors that the Obama administration planned to revise the controversial REAL ID national identification system. (The REAL ID Act of 2005 mandates that state driver’s licenses and ID cards follow federal technical standards and verification procedures issued by the Department of Homeland Security.) Now, the Washington Post reports that the administration will introduce new legislation to repeal and revise the REAL ID program. Twelve states have refused to participate in the REAL ID program; Missouri would be the thirteenth, if Gov. Nixon would sign the bill recently passed by his legislature.
I have not yet seen the proposed legislation and will reserve judgment until I do. But I have written before about my objections (pdf) to the current REAL ID system and changes rumored in April. The Washington Post reports:
The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano’s Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow. […]
As governor of Arizona, Napolitano called Real ID “feel-good” legislation not worth the cost, and she signed a state law last year opting out of the plan. As secretary, she said a substitute would “accomplish some of the same goals.” […]
The new plan keeps elements of Real ID, such as requiring a digital photograph, signature and machine-readable features such as a bar code. States also will still need to verify applicants’ identities and legal status by checking federal immigration, Social Security and State Department databases.
But it eliminates demands for new databases — linked through a national data hub — that would allow all states to store and cross-check such information, and a requirement that motor vehicle departments verify birth certificates with originating agencies, a bid to fight identity theft.
Instead, it adds stronger privacy controls and limits such development to a pilot program in Mississippi. DHS would have nine months to write new regulations, and states would have five years to reissue all licenses, with completion expected in 2016. […]
Meanwhile, privacy groups also objected, saying Real ID should just be killed.
“We don’t want to end up with National ID Lite,” said Chris Calabrese, counsel to the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union.