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Take Action! Oppose PASS ID, the Real ID revival in the Senate here.


The PASS ID Act of 2009: An Inadequate Fix for Real ID


On June 15, Senator Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced S. 1261, the "Providing for Additional Security in States' Identification Act of 2009" or the "PASS ID Act," which repeals and replaces the Real ID Act of 2005 with new national requirements for driver's licenses. While this stems from a sincere attempt to fix the unworkable Real ID Act of 2005, PASS ID simply serves as a band-aid on a gaping wound. It actually re-institutes many of Real ID's problems, and in some cases makes them even worse:

  • PASS ID would impose the United States' first-ever national identity card system, which would violate privacy by helping to consolidate data and facilitate tracking. After a 5-year hiatus to allow for implementation, PASS ID will be required for boarding airplanes in the same manner as Real ID, and over time its use will almost certainly expand to cover other activities necessary to participate in society.
  • PASS ID mandates that all identity source documents be copied physically or digitally and retained as long as the license is valid. By creating troves of sensitive documents on millions of individuals, this provision will be a dream for identity thieves.
  • In a provision that is actually worse than Real ID, PASS ID will allow insecure technology such as radio RFID chips to be used as part of PASS ID, despite the strong potential that technology holds for tracking of individuals' movements.
  • While PASS ID makes some concessions for the security of domestic violence victims, it still requires victims to get approval from the state before they can shield their identity. PASS ID will also require a broad array of identity documents and use the same flawed federal databases, creating long lines and hassles for drivers. In a time of shrinking state budgets, its costly administrative changes will be passed directly on to consumers in the form of higher fees.
  • PASS ID also burdens the rights of certain religious minorities by requiring digital photographs on each license. While many states have an exceptions process to accommodate these individuals, PASS ID actually preempts state religious protections.
  • Under PASS ID some legal immigrants will still be unable to get a PASS ID and many will be required to renew their licenses annually.

This legislation is entirely unnecessary because, thanks to the rebellion in the states, the Real ID Act is already dead. To date, 24 states have enacted anti-real ID bills or resolutions, and fourteen of those states have passed binding legislation prohibiting participation in the Real ID program. And the Real ID rebellion is not over, five states have already passed resolutions or statutes in 2009; Missouri will likely become the next state to opt out of Real ID if its governor signs legislation currently before him.

Rather than saving Americans from the Real ID legislation that they have rejected in such large numbers, PASS ID would actually rescue the core policies of Real ID at a time when it is about to die of its own misguided impracticality.

The problems inherent in Real ID cannot be solved by tinkering around the edges of the act. Instead, the entire unworkable system must be scrapped and replaced with a system that does not endanger Americans' privacy and civil liberties, such as a "negotiated rulemaking" process that brings together stakeholders to hash out wise and realistic improvements to driver's licenses (such a process was underway before Real ID shut it down). The PASS ID Act creates more problems than it solves, and it should not be viewed as a viable alternative to a true repeal of Real ID.


Coalition Statement of Principals on PASS ID

The undersigned organizations believe that by most significant measures the PASS ID Act is the same as the Real ID Act. It still invades our privacy; harms ordinary Americans and won’t make us safer.

PASS ID will still:

• Snarl innocent Americans in long lines and bureaucratic red tape – PASS ID will require the same broad array of identity documents and use the same flawed federal databases, creating longer lines and more hassles at motor vehicle offices or similar issuing offices.

• Create a National ID card – PASS ID is a national identity document that will be required to travel by air. If passed it will likely be expanded to serve other purposes, like riding a bus, purchasing a gun, or registering to vote.

• Snarl innocent Americans in long lines and bureaucratic red tape – PASS ID will require the same broad array of identity documents and use the same flawed federal databases, creating longer lines and more hassles at motor vehicle offices or similar issuing offices.

• Cause identity theft – PASS ID will require storage of identity documents like birth certificates for even longer periods than Real ID. The storage of these documents in a central location will form an irresistible target for identity thieves and crooked insiders, even if the system represents a modest improvement over the linkages proposed under Real ID.

• Allow new privacy invasions – PASS ID permits ‘enhanced drivers’ licenses,’ which contain long-range radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which can be used for tracking by anyone with a reader.

• Endanger victims of domestic violence – PASS ID requires domestic violence victims to prove their safety is in danger before allowing an exception to shield their address. PASS ID also requires the disclosure of victims’ confidential name change histories.

• Raise costs and harm consumers – PASS ID, just like Real ID, will require costly administrative changes which, in a time of crisis for state budgets, will necessarily be passed on directly to consumers in the form of higher fees.

• Harm religious minorities and legal immigrants – PASS ID contains no exception for sincerely held religious beliefs so religious minorities like the Amish will face restrictions on travel and any other public accommodation or use ultimately tied to possession of a PASS ID. Some immigrants, even those lawfully admitted, will be unable to get a PASS ID and many will be required to renew their licenses or identity cards annually.

Signatories:

American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
American Policy Center
Americans for Tax Reform
Asian American Justice Center
Former Congressman Bob Barr
Campaign for Liberty
Citizens Against Government Waste
Consumer Action
Cyber Privacy Project
Defending Dissent
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Equal Justice Alliance
Fairfax County Privacy Council
FreedomWorks
Government Accountability Project
Gun Owners of America
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Liberty Coalition
The Multiracial Activist
National Immigration Law Center
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
Patient Privacy Rights
Privacyactivism
Privacy International
PRIVACY JOURNAL
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Rutherford Institute
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation


Read the ACLU's press release on PASS ID here.

Read a primer on PASS ID's impact on immigration here.

Read the
Electronic Frontier Foundation's review of PASS ID here.


Read the Cato Institute's blog entries on PASS ID here.

Read the Electronic Privacy Information Center's analysis of PASS ID here.
 
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