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Joined: 2004/1/7
Posts: 25

 REAL ID ACT (National ID Card)

Not quite the "Mark of the Beast" but one huge step toward it.
Found this article in the news today:

What's all the fuss with the Real ID Act about?
President Bush is expected to sign an $82 billion
military spending bill soon that will, in part, create
electronically readable, federally approved ID cards
for Americans. The House of Representatives
overwhelmingly approved the package--which includes
the Real ID Act--on Thursday.

What does that mean for me?
Starting three years from now, if you live or work in
the United States, you'll need a federally approved ID
card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account,
collect Social Security payments, or take advantage of
nearly any government service. Practically speaking,
your driver's license likely will have to be reissued
to meet federal standards.

What's new:
The House of Representatives has approved an $82
billion military spending bill with an attachment that
would mandate electronically readable ID cards for
Americans. President Bush is expected to sign the

Bottom line:

The Real ID Act would establish what amounts to a
national identity card. State drivers' licenses and
other such documents would have to meet federal ID
standards established by the Department of Homeland

The Real ID Act hands the Department of Homeland
Security the power to set these standards and
determine whether state drivers' licenses and other ID
cards pass muster. Only ID cards approved by Homeland
Security can be accepted "for any official purpose" by
the feds.

How will I get one of these new ID cards?
You'll still get one through your state motor vehicle
agency, and it will likely take the place of your
drivers' license. But the identification process will
be more rigorous.

For instance, you'll need to bring a "photo identity
document," document your birth date and address, and
show that your Social Security number is what you had
claimed it to be. U.S. citizens will have to prove
that status, and foreigners will have to show a valid

State DMVs will have to verify that these identity
documents are legitimate, digitize them and store them
permanently. In addition, Social Security numbers must
be verified with the Social Security Administration.

What's going to be stored on this ID card?
At a minimum: name, birth date, sex, ID number, a
digital photograph, address, and a "common
machine-readable technology" that Homeland Security
will decide on. The card must also sport "physical
security features designed to prevent tampering,
counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for
fraudulent purposes."

Homeland Security is permitted to add additional
requirements--such as a fingerprint or retinal
scan--on top of those. We won't know for a while what
these additional requirements will be.

Why did these ID requirements get attached to an
"emergency" military spending bill?
Because it's difficult for politicians to vote against
money that will go to the troops in Iraq and tsunami
relief. The funds cover ammunition, weapons, tracked
combat vehicles, aircraft, troop housing, death
benefits, and so on.

The House already approved a standalone version of the
Real ID

Act in February, but by a relatively close margin of
261-161. It was expected to run into some trouble in
the Senate. Now that it's part of an Iraq spending
bill, senators won't want to vote against it.

What's the justification for this legislation anyway?
Its supporters say that the Real ID Act is necessary
to hinder terrorists, and to follow the ID card
recommendations that the 9/11 Commission made last

It will "hamper the ability of terrorist and criminal
aliens to move freely throughout our society by
requiring that all states require proof of lawful
presence in the U.S. for their drivers' licenses to be
accepted as identification for federal purposes such
as boarding a commercial airplane, entering a federal
building, or a nuclear power plant," Rep. F. James
Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said during the
debate Thursday.

You said the ID card will be electronically readable.
What does that mean?
The Real ID Act says federally accepted ID cards must
be "machine readable," and lets Homeland Security
determine the details. That could end up being a
magnetic strip, enhanced bar code, or radio frequency
identification (RFID) chips.

In the past, Homeland Security has indicated it likes
the concept of RFID chips. The State Department is
already going to be embedding RFID devices in
passports, and Homeland Security wants to issue
RFID-outfitted IDs to foreign visitors who enter the
country at the Mexican and Canadian borders. The
agency plans to start a yearlong test of the
technology in July at checkpoints in Arizona, New York
and Washington state.

Will state DMVs share this information?
Good question. The answer is yes. In exchange for
federal cash, states must agree to link up their
databases. Specifically, the Real ID Act says it hopes
to "provide electronic access by a state to
information contained in the motor vehicle databases
of all other states."

Is this legislation a done deal?
Pretty much. The House of Representatives approved the
package on Thursday by a vote of 368-58. Only three of
the "nay" votes were Republicans; the rest were
Democrats. The Senate is scheduled to vote on it next
week and is expected to approve it as well.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan has told
reporters "the president supports" the standalone Real
ID Act, and the Bush administration has come out with
an official endorsement. As far back as July 2002, the
Bush administration has been talking about assisting

"the states in crafting solutions to curtail the
future abuse of drivers' licenses by terrorist

Who were the three Republicans who voted against it?
Reps. Howard Coble of North Carolina, John Duncan of
Tennessee, and Ron Paul of Texas.

Paul has warned that the Real ID Act "establishes a
national ID card" and "gives authority to the
Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally add
requirements as he sees fit."

Is this a national ID card?
It depends on whom you ask. Barry Steinhardt, director
of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and
liberty program, says: "It's going to result in
everyone, from the 7-Eleven store to the bank and
airlines, demanding to see the ID card. They're going
to scan it in. They're going to have all the data on
it from the front of the card...It's going to be not
just a national ID card but a national database."

At the moment, state driver's licenses aren't easy for
bars, banks, airlines and so on to swipe through card
readers because they're not uniform; some may have
barcodes but no magnetic stripes, for instance, and
some may lack both. Steinhardt predicts the
federalized IDs will be a gold mine for government
agencies and marketers. Also, he notes that the
Supreme Court ruled last year that police can demand
to see ID from law-abiding U.S. citizens.

Will it be challenged in court?
Maybe. "We're exploring whether there are any
litigation possibilities here," says the ACLU's

One possible legal argument would challenge any
requirement for a photograph on the ID card as a
violation of religious freedom. A second would argue
that the legislation imposes costs on states without
properly reimbursing them.

When does it take effect?
The Real ID Act takes effect "three years after the
date of the enactment" of the legislation. So if the
Senate and Bush give it the thumbs-up this month, its
effective date would be sometime in May 2008.


 2005/5/6 23:44Profile

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