What about Fusion Centers and Real ID?

The American Civil Liberties Union

 

 

Contents

 

Fusion Center Map

 

Who's Spying in Your Neighborhood?
 

What's Wrong with Fusion Centers

 

Questions to Ask About Fusion Centers

General Questions
Data Mining and Data Security Questions
Participation of Non-Law Enforcement Entities in Fusion Center Activity
Classification Issues
Participation of Military Personnel in Fusion Centers
Costs and Cost-Effectiveness of Fusion Centers

Learn More

 

What about Real ID?

Real ID at a Glance

Statement of Beth Givens on Real ID and Identity Theft

About the Real ID Issue

Seven Problems with Real ID

Real Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Real Stories

The Alabama Mess: One State Tries to Begin Tackling Real ID

Real Burdens

FAQ on Discrimination Issues with Real ID

DMVs Say Real ID Will Be Real Nightmare

ACLU White Paper on DMV Survey

Text of Real ID Law

NCSL Summary of Real ID Act

Real Costs

Real Example: The Alabama Mess

 

ACLU Links to Articles on Privacy Issues
 

ACLU Calls for Internal DHS Investigations on Fusion Centers

 

ACLU’s letters to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Universal Dynamic Threat Assessment Classifying Environmental Groups as "Ecoterrorists"
Improper Surveillance of Anti-War Activists in Maryland
The North Texas Fusion Center's "Prevention Awareness Bulletin"
The Threat Management Division Of Federal Protective Services' Improper Monitoring Of Civil Activists
Missouri Fusion Center's Strategic Report

 

ACLU’s Report on Fusion Centers
 

You Are Being Watched

 

Are you living in a Constitution-free zone?
 

Are 1,000,000 terrorists poised to strike America?
 

Links to Some Key Resources

Medical Privacy and E-Medical Records
What's Wrong With Public Video Surveillance?
Data Mining
SWIFT

ACLU Report on Pandemic Preparedness
Fusion Centers
Combating the Surveillance Industrial Complex
Surveillance
How Monopoly Control of the Internet Threatens Free Speech
Domestic Spy Satellites
Forensic DNA Databanks
Bigger Monsters, Weaker Chains
Real ID
5 Reasons Not to Create a National ID Card
Science Under Siege
International Policy Laundering Project
Airline Security
Face-Recognition Technology
The Growth of an American Surveillance Society

Electronic Passports
Financial Privacy
The Cybercrime Treaty
Position statement on RFIDs
The FBI's Power to Rifle Through Your Records and Personal Belongings Without Telling You (PDF)
Through the Keyhole: Privacy in the Workplace, an Endangered Right
FAQ on the National Census
Other ACLU Documents on Privacy
 

Latest News on Fusion Centers, Real ID, and Issues Related to Government Spying

Fusion Center Declares Nations Oldest Universities Possible Terrorist Threat
Governor Signs Virginia Law Refusing to Fully Comply with Real ID Act
ACLU Calls for Internal DHS Investigations on Fusion Centers
DHS to Review Spy Satellite Program at Urging of Congresswoman
ACLU Sues Wyoming County DA for Threatening Teenage Girls with Child Pornography Charges over Photos of Themselves
View all Articles
 

 

 

Fusion Center Map
 

 

Fusion Centers are acting without proper transparency or oversight. This map will be updated as we learn more about the operations of each of the centers.

 

Grey – States where Fusion Centers have not been formed

Pink – States where Fusion Centers are in formation

Red – States where Fusion Centers are active

 



Who's Spying in Your Neighborhood?


Fusion Centers collect and share information with local, state and federal law enforcement, and increasingly, with the military and the private sector. Although information sharing is legitimate and often necessary for law enforcement, the Fusion Centers are operating with little oversight at a time when new technology, government powers and zeal in the "war on terrorism" are combining to threaten our privacy at an unprecedented level and turn America into a surveillance society.

This page offers information on each of the state fusion centers. For more information, read our report. For key questions to ask your local fusion center, click here.

 

 

What's Wrong with Fusion Centers – Executive Summary (12/5/2007)

 

(REPORT: What's Wrong with Fusion Centers)

 

A new institution is emerging in American life: Fusion Centers. These state, local and regional institutions were originally created to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. Though they developed independently and remain quite different from one another, for many the scope of their mission has quickly expanded - with the support and encouragement of the federal government - to cover "all crimes and all hazards." The types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector.

 

These new fusion centers, over 40 of which have been established around the country, raise very serious privacy issues at a time when new technology, government powers and zeal in the "war on terrorism" are combining to threaten Americans' privacy at an unprecedented level.

 

Moreover, there are serious questions about whether data fusion is an effective means of preventing terrorism in the first place, and whether funding the development of these centers is a wise investment of finite public safety resources. Yet federal, state and local governments are increasing their investment in fusion centers without properly assessing whether they serve a necessary purpose.

 

There's nothing wrong with the government seeking to do a better job of properly sharing legitimately acquired information about law enforcement investigations - indeed, that is one of the things that 9/11 tragically showed is very much needed.

 

But in a democracy, the collection and sharing of intelligence information - especially information about American citizens and other residents - need to be carried out with the utmost care. That is because, more and more, the amount of information available on each one of us is enough to assemble a very detailed portrait of our lives. And because security agencies are moving toward using such portraits to profile how "suspicious" we look.1

 

New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse.

 

Unfortunately, the new fusion centers have not conformed to these vital requirements.

 

Since no two fusion centers are alike, it is difficult to make generalized statements about them. Clearly not all fusion centers are engaging in improper intelligence activities and not all fusion center operations raise civil liberties or privacy concerns. But some do, and the lack of a proper legal framework to regulate their activities is troublesome. This report is intended to serve as a primer that explains what fusion centers are, and how and why they were created. It details potential problems fusion centers present to the privacy and civil liberties of ordinary Americans, including:

 

·        Ambiguous Lines of Authority. The participation of agencies from multiple jurisdictions in fusion centers allows the authorities to manipulate differences in federal, state and local laws to maximize information collection while evading accountability and oversight through the practice of "policy shopping."

 

·        Private Sector Participation. Fusion centers are incorporating private-sector corporations into the intelligence process, breaking down the arm's length relationship that protects the privacy of innocent Americans who are employees or customers of these companies, and increasing the risk of a data breach.

 

·        Military Participation. Fusion centers are involving military personnel in law enforcement activities in troubling ways.

 

·        Data Fusion = Data Mining. Federal fusion center guidelines encourage wholesale data collection and manipulation processes that threaten privacy.

 

·        Excessive Secrecy. Fusion centers are hobbled by excessive secrecy, which limits public oversight, impairs their ability to acquire essential information and impedes their ability to fulfill their stated mission, bringing their ultimate value into doubt.

 

The lack of proper legal limits on the new fusion centers not only threatens to undermine fundamental American values, but also threatens to turn them into wasteful and misdirected bureaucracies that, like our federal security agencies before 9/11, won't succeed in their ultimate mission of stopping terrorism and other crime.

 

The information in this report provides a starting point from which individuals can begin to ask informed questions about the nature and scope of intelligence programs being conducted in their communities. The report concludes with a list of recommendations for Congress and state legislatures.

 

1 Jay Stanley and Barry Steinhardt, "Even Bigger, Even Weaker: The Emerging Surveillance Society: Where Are We Now?", American Civil Liberties Union, September 2007.

 

 

 


 

Questions to Ask About Fusions Centers

 

General Questions
 

1.      Is there a state, local or regional Fusion Center in my area?

 

2.      Is the Fusion Center located within law enforcement facilities, in other government facilities or private space?

 

3.      Who are the participants in the Fusion Center?

 

4.      Under what authority does the Fusion Center operate (state law, local law, or federal law)?

 

5.      Who is responsible for ensuring all federal, state and local laws protecting privacy and civil liberties are enforced?

 

6.      What state or local sunshine laws or open meeting laws apply to activities taking place at Fusion Centers?

 

 

Data Mining and Data Security Questions
 

1.      What information, intelligence and/or data are collected at the Fusion Center and how is it stored?

 

2.      Who has access to this data at the Fusion Center? How is it protected from misuse?

 

3.      What does the Fusion Center do to ensure the accuracy of the data it receives and disseminates?

 

4.      Do all data bases associated with the Fusion Center comply with 28 C.F.R. Part 23?

 

5.      How is private, personally identifiable information received by the Fusion Center protected?

 

6.      Does the Fusion Center engage in data mining?

 

7.      What databases/data sets does the Fusion Center have access to, and how does it access them?

 

 

Participation of Non-Law Enforcement Entities in Fusion Center Activity
 

1.      Do any non-law enforcement entities participate in Fusion Center activities? If so, who?

 

2.      Do any private sector entities participate in the Fusion Center activities? If so, who?

 

3.      How are private sector entities selected to participate in the Fusion Center? May private sector entities not selected to participate in Fusion Centers receive the same information that is made available to those private entities that are selected? How would they get access to this information?

 

4.      Do these non-law enforcement entities have access to law enforcement information or databases through their participation in the Fusion Centers? If they are co-located with law enforcement personnel what safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized access?

 

5.      Who is responsible for overseeing the non-law enforcement and private sector personnel, and who are these individuals accountable to?

 

6.      Who trains Fusion Center personnel?

 

7.      Who receives data, intelligence reports or other products from the Fusion Centers?

 

8.      Do any private companies handle, store or analyze data received from or processed through the Fusion Center? How is that data protected once it is out of government control?

 

 

Classification Issues
 

1.      Are there facilities at the Fusion Center to store classified information?

 

2.      Have local officials been given security clearances?

 

3.      Have any private sector entities been given security clearances or access to sensitive information at the Fusion Center?

 

4.      Does the use of classified information at the Fusion Center limit intelligence sharing with state and local law enforcement agencies in our cities, towns and communities? How is this problem being addressed?

 

 

Participation of Military Personnel in Fusion Center Activities
 

1.      Does the National Guard participate in the Fusion Center, and if so, under what authority?

 

2.      Are the National Guardsmen limited in what data they may collect, analyze, or review at the Fusion Centers?

 

3.      Do any active-duty military personnel participate, and if so under what authority?

 

4.      How is activity of the National Guardsmen and military personnel monitored to ensure compliance with applicable laws regarding the use of the military in domestic law enforcement?

 

 

Costs and Cost-Effectiveness of Fusion Centers
 

1.      What are the annual costs of the Fusion Center?

 

2.      How do you evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the Fusion Center?



Learn More

GAO Report to Congressional Committees


Click on Surveillance Society to learn more about The ACLU’s position on the Surveillance Society.

 



What about Real ID?
 

 

WHAT'S IN THIS SECTION
 

·        Real ID at a Glance

·        Statement of Beth Givens on Real ID and Identity Theft

·        About the Real ID Issue

·        Seven Problems with Real ID

·        Real Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

·         Real Stories

·        The Alabama Mess: One State Tries to Begin Tackling Real ID

·        Real Burdens

·        FAQ on Discrimination Issues with Real ID

·        DMVs Say Real ID Will Be Real Nightmare

·        ACLU White Paper on DMV Survey

·        Text of Real ID Law

·        NCSL Summary of Real ID Act

·        Real Costs

·        Real Example: The Alabama Mess

 



Real ID at a Glance


The Real ID Act of 2005 would turn our state driver’s licenses into a genuine national identity card and impose numerous new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants, and state governments – while doing nothing to protect against terrorism. As a result, it is stirring intense opposition from many groups across the political spectrum. This Web site provides information about opposing Real ID.

 

 


Statement of Beth Givens on Real ID and Identity Theft

 

Real ID Act Will Increase Exposure to ID Theft

by Beth Givens, Director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

If you think identity theft is bad now, wait until something called the Real ID Act goes into effect. This law federalizes and standardizes state driver's licenses for all 50 states, and it will result in something that has been resisted in this country for a long time -- a de facto national identity card.

Read Beth Givens' full statement
here.

 


About the Real ID Issue

 

The Real ID Act creates a federal identity document that every American will need in order to fly on commercial airlines, enter government buildings, open a bank account, and more. 

It creates huge administrative burdens for state governments, while providing only minimal federal funds for implementing its onerous requirements.  At the same time, it does nothing to combat terrorism, and puts us at greater risk for invasions of privacy and identity theft. 

 

You can learn more about Real ID: the costs, the burdens, and the real bureaucratic nightmare coming to a DMV near you, by clicking on a video at:
http://www.realnightmare.org/about/21/

 

 

 


Seven Problems with Real ID

What’s Wrong with Real ID

·        It’s a national identity system. The standardized national driver’s licenses created by Real ID would become a key part of a system of identity papers, databases, status and identity checks and access control points – an “internal passport” that will increasingly be used to track and control individuals’ movements and activities.

·        Will not be effective against terrorism. The fact is, identity-based security is not an effective way to stop terrorism. ID documents do not reveal anything about evil intent – and even if they did, determined terrorists will always be able to obtain fraudulent documents (either counterfeit or real documents bought from corrupt officials).

·        Will be a nightmare for state governments. Real ID requires state governments to remake their driver’s licenses, restructure many of their computer databases and other systems, create an extensive new document-storage system, and – perhaps most difficult of all – verify the “issuance, validity and completeness” of every document presented at DMVs. See Real Burdens.

·        Will mean higher fees, long lines, and bureaucratic nightmares for individuals. Because Congress ordered but did not pay for these mandates, which will cost states billions of dollars, fees on individuals applying for driver’s licenses will inevitably rise, perhaps steeply. Individuals are also likely to confront slower service, longer lines, and frequent bureaucratic snafus in obtaining these ID cards. Many unlucky individuals will find themselves caught in a bureaucratic nightmare as they run up against the complexities of this law.

·        Increased security and ID-theft risks. The creation of a single interlinked database as well as the requirement that each DMV store copies of every birth certificate and other documents presented to it will create a one-stop shop for identity thieves.

·        Will be exploited by the private sector to invade privacy. Real ID would make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Already, bars often swipe licenses to collect personal data on customers – but that will prove to be just the tip of the iceberg as every convenience store learns to grab that data and sell it to data companies for a dime.

·        Will expand over time. The Real ID database will inevitably, over time, become the repository for more and more data on individuals, and will be drawn on for an ever-wider set of purposes. Its standardized machine-readable interface will drive its integration into an ever-growing network of identity checks and access control points – each of which will create new data trails that will in turn be linked to that central database or its private-sector shadow equivalent.

For more information on these problems, see the Real Answers FAQ.

 

 


Real Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Real ID Act?

The Real ID Act is a law signed by President Bush in May 2005, which, if it is accepted by and carried out by the states, would turn state driver’s licenses into a genuine national identity card and impose numerous new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants, and state governments. 

What would the Real ID Act do?

Real ID would force the states to standardize driver’s licenses cards across the nation into a single national identity card and database.  It does this by stipulating that state driver’s licenses and state ID cards will not be accepted for “federal purposes” – including boarding an aircraft or entering a federal facility – unless they meet all of the law’s numerous conditions, which include:

 

·        Standardized data elements and security features on the IDs

·        A “machine readable zone” that will allow for the easy capture of all the data on the ID by stores or anyone else with a reader

·        The construction of a 50-state, interlinked database making all the information in each person’s file available to all the other states and to the federal government

A requirement that states verify the “issuance, validity and completeness” of every document presented at motor vehicles agencies (usually called “DMVs”) as part of an application for a Real ID card

What is the status of Real ID?

The Real ID Act has been passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush.  But its acceptance in the states is far from assured.  States have responded to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) implementation plan with an all-out revolt against the Real ID Act.  To date, 21 states have enacted anti-Real ID bills or resolutions. Eleven states – Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, and Louisiana – will never issue a Real ID license because they have enacted binding legislation prohibiting participation in the Real ID program.  DHS completed regulations that spell out in more detail exactly what the states must do to make compliant IDs in January 2008.  According to the original law, the states only had until May 11, 2008 to come into compliance, or their citizens’ driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted for federal purposes.  Realizing this was an impossible demand, DHS agreed to issue extensions to states that had taken steps to begin Real ID implementation.  They asked states to sign "memorandums of understanding" indicating their intent to comply with the Real ID Act.  Several states refused to sign the memorandum, or responded with letters explaining that their state was legally prohibited from implementing the Real ID Act, but realizing the potential fallout of their own non-compliance penalty, DHS issued all 50 states compliance extensions through December 31, 2009.

If the battle in Congress is over and the legislation has been passed, why is it still controversial?

There are several reasons the Act remains controversial.

1.   The Act was not passed through a true democratic process. It was slipped through Congress in May 2005 in a “must-pass” Iraq War/Tsunami relief supplemental bill, as part of a deal reached between the powerful Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R, Wis.) and the Congressional leadership.  There was no time for sufficient consideration of the Act and its sweeping implications; in the Senate, there was not even a single hearing held on the Act.  The result is that Real ID lacks the legitimacy that comes from having been studied, debated, considered, and directly voted upon by Americans’ elected representatives. 

2.   The game is not over, it has just moved into the states.  Although the Act was passed by Congress, Real ID cannot go into effect without a multitude of actions in the states.  State legislatures must appropriate money and, in most cases, change state laws.  State executives must remake or build anew all the administrative machinery required to comply with the Act’s numerous mandates.  And a lot of people at the state level do not like what they see.

3.   Broad interest-group opposition.  Opponents range from privacy and civil liberties organizations like the ACLU to conservative groups to immigration groups. 

4.   It’s a bad Act.  Most fundamentally, the Real ID Act has sparked opposition because it would not be good for our country.

The opposition to Real ID is broad and deep, and despite its passage by Congress, there remains an excellent chance that it will be reversed in part or in whole. 

Why is Real ID bad for our country?

Simply put, Real ID would offer significant costs and disadvantages without any corresponding advantages:

·        By definitively turning driver’s licenses into a form of national identity documents, Real ID would have a tremendously destructive impact on privacy. 

·        The Act would impose significant administrative burdens and expenses on state governments, and would mean higher fees, longer lines, repeat visits to the DMV, and bureaucratic nightmares for individuals. 

·        Yet, it would not be effective at increasing security against terrorism or bring any other benefits which would justify those costs.

What burdens would it impose on state governments?

Real ID would significantly strain state governments.  Among the most significant burdens:

·        It would require the states to remake their driver’s licenses, restructure many of their computer databases and other systems, create an extensive new document-storage system, and considerably expanded their security measures. 

·        It would require the states to set up an interstate data-sharing network, which would also require complex administrative, technical, and security measures.

·        It includes a devilishly difficult mandate that states verify the “issuance, validity and completeness” of every birth certificate, immigration document, utility bill, and any other document presented at DMVs as part of an application for a Real ID card.

·        Yet, it leaves the DMVs with no way to compel utility companies or other document issuers to cooperate with that verification. 

·        It would require states to expand their DMV payrolls, initiate or expand employee training in such areas as security, document verification, and immigration law, and initiate or expand security clearance procedures for their workers.   

What burdens would it impose on individuals?

Real ID would mean higher fees, inconveniences, and bureaucratic nightmares for individuals.

 

·        Higher fees.  Because the Act’s mandates would cost states billions of dollars that Congress is not paying for, fees on individuals applying for driver’s licenses would inevitably rise, perhaps steeply.  State taxes might also go up.

·        Worse service.  Because of the new document requirements for individuals, the labor-intensive complexities involved in verifying those documents, and the need for DMVs to reprocess the bulk of the population that already has driver’s licenses, individuals would be likely to confront slower service, longer lines, and the need for repeat visits to the DMV. 

·        Bureaucratic problems.  The complicated yet often ambiguous maze of requirements created by the Act would throw many unlucky individuals into a bureaucratic quagmire as they try to overcome inflexible verification requirements, bureaucratic errors or mismatches, lost documents, unique circumstances, or other problems.  Some individuals, inevitably, would find themselves unable to obtain these new identity papers. 

These kinds of problems would be significant for anyone.  In addition, for many low-income workers for whom taking off time from work is difficult or expensive, the need for repeated trips to the DMV (and to other agencies such as registrar’s offices in search of birth certificates) would be an even greater burden.

What about people who don’t have driver’s licenses?

Millions of Americans do not have driver’s licenses.  Out of a population of 290 million residents, there are only 194 million licensed drivers.  In addition to millions of children and teenagers, the elderly are particularly likely to lack licenses.  An estimated 36 percent of Georgia residents over age 74, for example, lack driver’s licenses.[1] 

By creating strict new identity requirements for federal identification and, inevitably, expanding them over time to cover a growing list of purposes, Real ID would force the people in this population to figure out a way to jump through the bureaucratic hoops required to get compliant identity documents – and leave DMVs struggling with how to process them.

What about people who don’t have birth certificates?

In some cases, individuals would not be able to obtain birth certificates, or the documents they have in hand upon arriving at the DMV would not be able to be verified. 

·        Over the decades, records are lost through fires, floods, and disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. 

·        Documents can be rendered suspect due to fraud or malfeasance.  In 2004, for example, thousands of Hudson County, NJ residents received word that their birth certificates had been declared invalid because of an ongoing fraud investigation at the County Clerks’ office. [1]

·        Over 30 million people in the U.S. are foreign-born, and many of them were born in remote undeveloped nations or other places where no birth records are kept, or in places (such as what is now North Korea) where any records might be difficult or impossible to obtain. 

·        Some people are not sure when or even where they were born.

It is far from clear what would happen to such people.  Real ID is silent on how such individuals should be handled, so DMVs would need to figure out if they would simply be denied identity papers, or if their applications could be processed in some other way consistent with the Act.

 

What effect would Real ID have on legal immigrants?

 

Real ID specifically targets immigrant drivers, and that group would be among those hardest-hit by the Act.  The Act bars states from issuing a Real ID to any non-citizen who cannot prove that they are in an enumerated lawful immigration status through verified documentary evidence; fails the database check; or cannot prove their identity because they rely on foreign documents other than an official passport.

 

Real ID would turn DMVs into sub-branches of the immigration service, forcing clerks to try to decide who can and cannot be given a license – despite the complexity of our immigration laws, which rivals that of our tax code, and the numerous legal categories that allow an individual to obtain legal status in the United States, and the even greater number of documents that verify that status.  Training for motor vehicles employees could not possibly cover all of the technicalities of the immigration laws.  And immigration databases are notoriously incomplete and error-ridden and might fail to verify the status of people who are in fact legally present. And many non-citizens who have lawful status, particularly refugees, might be unable to obtain federally-qualified licenses simply because they do not have official passports from their home countries.

 

What would happen to those who cannot get a Real ID?

 

It is unclear, but life would become tougher and tougher for them.

 

Some states might create a “second class” driver’s license that they can provide to those who can’t meet the requirements for getting a Real ID.  These licenses would likely be viewed as a badge of real or suspected illegal-immigrant status, and trigger suspicion by law enforcement officers, government agencies, employers, landlords, financial institutions, utilities, and others who demand ID.

 

But whether or not they obtain second class licenses, those who cannot get Real ID-compliant identity documents could in theory be left unable to fly on commercial aircraft, enter federal facilities such as courthouses or office buildings, or even possibly get a job legally.

 

Furthermore, the list of activities for which these IDs are required is sure to expand, if the current mindless trend of seeking security through identity papers is not reversed.  In fact, the Real ID Act explicitly says that Real IDs shall be required not only for activities like boarding aircraft, but also for “any other purposes that the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall determine.”

How much would Real ID cost?

The short answer is that at this point no one really knows.  Existing technology standards, state administrative structures, and laws within the different states vary widely, with the result that Real ID would prove even more expensive for some states than for others, and no one has actually performed a comprehensive national study of those costs.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initially estimated that nationwide implementation would cost over $23 billion, roughly in line with estimates from independent groups like the National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislators.  But in its final regulations for implementation, published January 11, 2008, DHS significantly scaled back its cost estimate, from $23 billion to $9.9 billion. The new estimate is broken down roughly as follows:

$3.9 billion – costs to the states
$5.8 billion – costs to individuals
$0.2 billion – costs to federal government and private sector
$9.9 billion – TOTAL

However, a close look at the cost table in the regulations (p. 221) compared with the Department’s dubious assumptions and the requirements of the statute make it clear that DHS is practicing
fuzzy math and grossly underestimating the real costs.

Why do opponents call Real ID a tax increase?

The legislation that was rammed into law provided no money to pay the states’ costs to comply, so those costs would ultimately be borne by the residents of each state – if not in the form of higher fees at the DMV, then in the form of higher taxes.

 

That is why Real ID is for all intents and purposes a hidden tax increase.  If Congressional leaders want to impose a multi-billion-dollar “security tax” on the American citizens, they must do so only through well-established mechanisms and after a proper period of open debate and exploratory hearings that examine the costs and benefits of such a measure.  Congressional leaders must not impose an enormously expensive (and dubiously effective) security scheme while trying to weasel out of paying for such a scheme by sneaking its costs along to taxpayers through higher license fees and/or state tax increases.

 

How would Real ID hurt privacy?

 

Real ID would become a key infrastructure for, and dramatically accelerate, the surveillance society that is already being constructed in the United States.  Once put in place, it would be used more and more for the routine tracking, monitoring, and regulation of individuals’ movements and activities, it would be exploited by the private sector, and it would expose individuals to greater risk of identity theft and other security risks.  Its centralized database would inevitably, over time, become the repository for more and more data on individuals, and would be drawn on for an ever-wider set of purposes.

How would Real ID create security and ID-theft risks?

The creation of a single interlinked database (as well as the requirement that each DMV store copies of all the birth certificates and other documents presented to it) would create a one-stop shop for identity thieves.  Nearly 10 million people, or 5 percent of U.S. adults, were victims of identity theft in one year (2002) alone, according to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission study. [2]  The security problems with creating concentrated databases have been repeatedly demonstrated over the years – most recently in the rash of cases where information held by commercial database companies has fallen into the hands of identity thieves or others.  (See The Choicepoint ID Theft Case: What it Means)  The government’s record at information security is little better.  And DMV employees around the country have repeatedly been caught in corruption schemes such as selling fraudulent licenses or data to identity thieves. [3]

How would Real ID be exploited by the private sector to invade privacy?

The new identity system created by Real ID would accelerate a larger American trend toward a the construction of a public-private “Security-Industrial Complex.”  Data aggregators like ChoicePoint, Acxiom, Lexis-Nexis and others make up an enormous, multi-billion-dollar industry that builds dossiers on individuals using a wide array of sources. And the government is increasingly turning to such companies for help with security functions.  The FBI, for example, pays millions to ChoicePoint, and the TSA wants to use private-sector firms in performing identity checks on airline passengers. [4]

 

The “common machine-readable technology” on Real IDs would allow for easy, computerized transfer of the data on the cards not only to the government at checkpoints like airports, but also to private parties.  Already, many bars already collect all their customers’ information (including such details as height and weight) by swiping driver’s licenses handed over to prove legal drinking age. [5]  That might prove to be just the tip of the iceberg as every big-box retailer, convenience store, and liquor mart learns to grab that data and sell it to Choicepoint for a dime.  The result would be that, even if the states and federal government do successfully protect the data, it would be harvested by private companies, which would then build up a parallel, for-profit database on Americans, free from even the limited privacy rules in effect for the government.

How is Real ID a true national identity card system?

Although individual states’ driver’s licenses may continue to exhibit cosmetic differences, under Real ID they would contain a standardized set of information collected by all 50 states, in standard format, encoded on a standardized “machine-readable” zone.  And although individual states would still maintain their own databases, by requiring them to be interlinked, Real ID would bring into being what is, for all practical purposes, a single distributed database.  In short, underneath each state’s pretty designs they are really a single standardized national card.  Local DMV offices may continue to appear to be state offices, but under Real ID they would become agents acting on behalf of the federal government, charged with administering what amounts to an internal passport without which no one will be able to function in America.

 

What’s wrong with a national identity card?

 

The true problem is not the piece of plastic itself, but the construction of a larger network of identity papers, databases, status and identity checks and access control points – in short, what has been called an “internal passport.” If the old driver’s license represented a license to drive – the government’s very specific permission to operate a vehicle on the public roadways – the fear is that the new documents will become tantamount to a license to leave your house.

 

National IDs would violate privacy by helping to consolidate data.  There is an enormous and ever-increasing amount of data being collected about Americans today.  One’s grocery store, for example, might use a “loyalty card” to keep detailed records of what you buy, while Amazon keeps records of what you read, the airlines keep track of where you fly, and so on. This can be an invasion of privacy, but our privacy has actually been protected by the fact that all this information still remains scattered across many different databases.  But once the government, landlords, employers, or other powerful forces gain the ability to draw together all this information, our privacy will really be destroyed.  And that is exactly what a national identity system would facilitate. 

 

A national ID like Real ID would also facilitate tracking.  When a police officer or security guard scans your ID card with his pocket bar-code reader, for example, it will likely create a permanent record of that check, including the time and your location.  How long before office buildings, doctors’ offices, gas stations, highway tolls, subways and buses incorporate the ID card into their security or payment systems for greater efficiency? The end result could be a situation where citizens’ movements inside their own country are monitored and recorded through these “internal passports."

Shouldn’t something be done to improve our driver’s licenses?

In fact, before Real ID, something was being done: a “negotiated rulemaking” process to update the nation’s driver’s licenses.  That process brought together key stakeholders (from DHS to state officials to automobile interests to privacy groups like the ACLU).  But Real ID included language shutting down that process and replacing it with a heavy-handed set of requirements for the states that leaves all the key decisions in the hands of ONE of the interests that was represented at the table: the Department of Homeland Security.

Ultimately, however, we should not place too much emphasis on trying to achieve security through improved identification practices.  The fact is, identity-based security is not an effective way to stop terrorism.

Why wouldn’t a national ID card improve security?

 

ID documents do not reveal anything about evil intent.  Even with a reliable list of terrorists, the authorities will miss anyone who is not previously known to be a threat.  The only solution for that is improved intelligence and old-fashioned law enforcement techniques involving the investigation of known evidence.  Even where a person is known to be a threat, determined terrorists will always be able to obtain fraudulent documents (either counterfeit or real documents bought from corrupt officials).  Thousands of fraudulent driver’s licenses, for example, have been issued through bribed state employees and identity-theft rings that include such employees.

Would Real ID cause discrimination against U.S. Citizens? 

Yes.  REAL ID would require DMV employees to decide whether someone is a citizen or foreigner before issuing a driver’s license – forcing them to distinguish among citizens, permanent resident immigrants – often by making difficult and subtle judgments about complex immigration issues.   That would inevitably cause discrimination against U.S. citizens who may “look” or “sound” “foreign” to a DMV bureaucrat.  Such citizens would likely be interrogated more, have their documents scrutinized with suspicion, be treated as suspect, and be denied a license or targeted for further questioning or investigation.  Those who did not satisfy the DMV employee might be denied a license altogether or be told that they are eligible only for a license that is not compliant with Real ID.

What can be done about Real ID?

State legislators, interested citizens, and other individuals can join with the many governors and interest groups who oppose this legislation and force Congress to repeal and/or rework it.  In addition, as states refuse to make Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses for their citizens (an entirely lawful option), the system envisioned by its sponsors is undermined, further pressuring Congress to revisit the issue, this time with proper democratic consideration and debate.  If this does not happen, this legislation will – in however a chaotic and delayed fashion – go into effect and reshape the power structure of this nation in the most basic ways.

[1] Statistical Abstract of the United States; online at http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/04statab/pop.pdf.  For Georgia figure see “States Take Up Photo IDs at Polls Debate,” Associated Press, March 30, 2005; available online at http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0305/217092.html.

[2] “Identity Theft Survey Report,” prepared by Synovate for the Federal Trade Commission, September 2003; online at www.ftc.gov/os/2003/09/synovatereport.pdf.

[3] For a survey of press reports documenting problems see Center for Democracy and Technology, “Unlicensed Fraud: How bribery and lax security at state motor vehicle offices nationwide lead to identity theft and illegal driver’s licenses,” January 2004, pp. 5-7; online at http://www.cdt.org/privacy/20040200dmv.pdf.

[4] On the growing ties between the government and commercial data brokers, see the ACLU Report “The Surveillance-Industrial Complex,” p. 26; online at www.aclu.org/surveillance.  On airline passenger profiling, see Transportation Security Administration, “Privacy Act of 1974: Notice to establish system of records,” Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 185 (Friday, Sept. 24, 2004), p. 57345.  See also the explanations of the government’s various plans at www.aclu.org/secureflight and www.aclu.org/capps

[5] Jennifer 8. Lee, “Welcome to the Database Lounge,” New York Times, March 21, 2002; online at http://tech2.nytimes.com/mem/technology/techreview.html?res=980DE5DE1038F932A15750C0A9649C8B63

 

 


Real Stories

In Attempt to Implement Real ID, Indiana Will Revoke Licenses of Thousands

Beginning next week, the BMV will send letters to 206,000 people asking them to update their driver's license or state identification card information. If the BMV doesn't get correct information or does not hear from those people their licenses or ID cards will be revoked.

"Mismatched Records May Cost Hoosiers Their Licenses," The
Indianapolis Star, November 2, 2007.  

ID Requirements Depriving Citizens of Health Care

New federal rules that mirror the Real ID Act in requiring a birth certificate to prove one's citizenship as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid benefits have dramatically reduced rates of enrollment, state health officials report.

Robert Pear, "Citizens Who Lack Papers Lose Medicaid," New York Times, March 12, 2007. 
Online >

Disabled Entrapped by ID Rules

Bobby Hartwell overcame the challenges of cerebral palsy and mental retardation to live on his own - with help from the state of Colorado.  Now the state is threatening to take away his benefits because he cannot come up with the documentation to obtain a photo ID.

Karen Auge, "Disabled Entrapped by ID Rules,"
Denver Post, March 4, 2007.  Online >

Real ID a Nightmare for Military Veterans

Navy veteran Gerard P. Keenan worries about the burdens his family will endure under the Real ID Act.  Keenan's children were born while he was stationed overseas, have foreign birth certificates and foreign passports, and will likely face huge bureaucratic hurdles when they try to renew their driver's licenses in the US.

Gerard P. Keenan, "Real ID - A Real Nightmare," Op-Ed News, February 16, 2007. 
Online >

Need Proof?  Don't Count on Driver's License.

"When my wife went to renew her Illinois driver's license recently, the clerks and supervisors at the secretary of state's office were not satisfied that she was who she claimed to be."

Eric Zorn, "Need Proof? Don't Count on Driver's License," Chicago Tribune column, January 4, 2006. 

Yes, I really am Jo Dee.  Still.  Really.

Here’s the story of one Alaska resident's attempt to prove her identity to the DMV.  Jo Dee Pederson lost her driver's license and was told she could not use her Social Security card because her last name had changed (she got married).  Her Kafkaesque experience promises to become the norm across the country if the Real ID Act is implemented.

Jo Dee Pederson, "Yes, I really am Jo Dee.  Still.  Really,"
Anchorage Daily News, November 1, 2006.

 

More Problems in Alabama

Alabama newspapers are reporting more Real-ID related snafus -- a sign of things to come for other states if the Act is rolled out across the nation.  On July 23, the Decatur Daily News reported long lines and waits at the Madison, AL motor vehicles office.  The paper wrote:

The problem is compounded because Alabama is one of only a handful of states that requires U.S. citizens to do additional identity verification for Real I.D., a national information linking system that doesn't take effect until 2008. This creates problems for people whose names on birth certificates differ from names on previous driver licenses. Marriage and divorce are other examples that can create a problem. In every instance, paperwork must be provided and verified.

The next week, things got even worse at Alabama licensing offices due to the failure of a computer server and problems with a network that does national database checks.  The network problems were a direct result of Real ID, officials said.  It was not clear what caused the server problem and whether Real ID disruptions were behind that also.

"Wait to get driver license is expected, but this long? Server failure causes computers to crash statewide," Decatur Daily News, July 30, 2006.  Online >

New Jersey Vet's License Caught in Real ID Limbo

James Scott, a veteran of WWII, cannot renew his driver's license thanks to the verification requirements of New Jersey's Six-Point System, which mimics the requirements of Real ID.  "I served this country," says Scott.  "The President didn't want my birth certificate when he sent the letter drafting me."

"
ID Requirement Idles Drivers' Independence," North Jersey Media Group, March 25, 2006.  

Retired Fireman Can't Get License Due To Real ID Bureaucracy

Bill Cattorini, a 33-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, is experiencing first-hand the Real ID bureaucracy nightmare.  Due to a discrepancy between his birth certificate and his Social Security record, the Illinois Secretary of State is refusing to renew his driver's license - all part of an attempt by the state to comply with Real ID, which is already wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Americans.

Mark Brown tells Bill's story in the Chicago Sun-Times, March 21, 2006.  PDF >

 


The Alabama Mess: One State Tries to Begin Tackling Real ID

State administrators, governors, and others have been warning about the disruption and chaos that actual implementation of Real ID will likely bring. This is not mere speculation, however - one attempt to begin initiating early compliance with the law already created such enormous confusion and disruption that it had to be halted.

One of the Real ID Act's requirements is that names on compliant driver's licenses must exactly match individuals' names as held by the Social Security Administration. Noting this, officials in Alabama decided to get a head start on complying with that aspect of the law. The state's motor vehicles department (the Department of Public Safety or DPS), began sending letters to individuals whose records were mismatched, demanding that they correct the "erroneous" information on their driver's licenses.

The result was a fiasco. Thousands of panicked Alabama residents jammed DPS offices worried that they would lose their right to drive. And, because the state began its records review with the oldest records, many of the reported 65,000-80,000 drivers who got letters were senior citizens.

Many recipients of the letter - some of whom had been driving for 50 yeaars or longer - became panicked that they would lose their means of traveling around the largely rural state. Many elderly drivers were also reportedly worried that their Social Security checks or pensions would be interrupted if they did not "fix" the problem right away. "Here are people who have been law-abiding citizens all their lives, and then they get this letter," state legislator Neal Morrison told the Associated Press. "It scared them to death."

Anyone whose name as recorded by the motor vehicles department differed by the slightest amount from the way their name was recorded by the Social Security Administration received a letter. Recipients were instructed that they had to visit a DPS office to "correct" their data before they would be allowed to renew their license. That included, for example, women who had changed their last name on one card but not the other after a marriage or divorce, people with nicknames, and even those with slight variations in their names, such as a middle initial appearing on one but not the other. In quintessential bureaucratic fashion, the letter informed individuals that the name as listed on their driver's license - though it might well be a person's preferred form of address - was "erroneous."

Many citizens were also angered by the delays and fees that they encountered when they tried to comply with the letter. One 70-year-old woman had to go to the motor vehicles office for three days straight, the AP reported, finally obtaining a new license on the third day after a two-and-a-half-hour wait. Then, she was asked to pay an $18 fee - the state's standard payment for a new or duplicate license – and she "hit the ceiling." Another cost for many was the need to pay additional fees to obtain a new or replacement birth certificate.

Apologetic DPS officials halted the effort in the face of all these problems (including calls from state legislators who had heard from their constituents), and promised to try to lessen the problems by clarifying their explanations of the situation in future letters. Nevertheless, the fact remained that the cause of the disruption was not going to go away: the looming reality of the REAL ID Act. As the Alabama officials explained, "Public Safety regrets the inconvenience, aggregation and confusion this has caused licensed drivers, but we are mandated to do this by federal law."

Alabama's unfortunate experience trying to get a jump on implementing just one aspect of the sprawling Real ID legislation is merely a glimpse of what states and their residents can expect over the next few years if implementation of this legislation proceeds as scheduled. Bureaucratic hair-splitting, confusing instructions, long waits, overwhelmed offices, missed work, infuriating bureaucratic runarounds, and additional fees are what this legislation promises for Americans. All for - what?

Sources

M.J. Ellington, "Your life on your license: Alabama a step ahead in national ID debate," The Decatur Daily News, May 13, 2005.

 

Mark Harrison, "License confusion possible," [Fort Payne, Alabama] Times-Journal, October 1, 2005.

 

Alan Elsner, "Road to digital driver's licenses chaotic," Reuters, October 10, 2005.

Associated Press and Decatur Daily News staff, "
Alabama puts brakes on license notification," October 7, 2005.

 

 

 


Real Burdens

The Administrative Problems REAL ID Imposes on the States

The Real ID Act was slipped through Congress in an Iraq War/Tsunami relief supplemental bill in May 2005. Cutting off a "negotiated rulemaking" that had included the ACLU and other key stakeholders from Homeland Security to state officials as part of a process to update the nation's driver's licenses, Real ID imposes a clumsy and burdensome set of requirements on states as part of its aim to definitively turn Americans' driver's licenses into a true national identity card system.

Ultimately, Real ID changes the very nature and mission of DMVs, from agencies responsible primarily for ensuring the safe operation of vehicles on state roadways, into a wide-ranging enforcement agent of the federal government in areas from immigration rules to Social Security fraud. Given that far more Americans die on our roads every year than have ever fallen victim to terrorism, diluting and confusing the mission of our DMVs would seem to be unwise indeed.

This Act is a giant unfunded federal mandate that will create enormous initial and ongoing administrative burdens and costs for states. It will also create burdens for individual citizens including a higher cost and longer wait for licensing. And it is far from clear that these extraordinary costs will bring any benefits in preventing terrorism. Before states spend the substantial resources Real ID will require, they owe it to their citizens to seriously question the necessity and efficacy of implementing the Real ID Act.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued its final regulations spelling out the details of these and other requirements. Close analysis of the regulations by the ACLU revealed shocking results; for the most part, DHS failed to respond to the legitimate concerns of interested parties. The result is regulations that are likely impossible to implement.

Remaking the Card

The Real ID Act requires the inclusion of particular features on every driver's license or identity card, each of which may entail significant burdens on the states.

·        Common data elements. Real ID requires that ID's contain standard information such as full legal name, gender, address, date of birth, photograph and signature. While many of these data elements already exist on many states' IDs, any state that does not currently incorporate any of these elements will have to add them - and while it sounds simple, that may be a complicated project requiring reprogramming of multiple interlocking state databases, computer entry screens, communications protocols, and paper forms.

·        Physical security features. The Act also requires "physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication."  Even those states that currently include physical security features of one kind or another on their licenses may well need to overhaul those features to bring them into compliance with the standards set by the forthcoming Real ID regulations.

·        Machine-readable technology. Real ID mandates "a common machine-readable technology" such as a bar code, magnetic stripe, or RFID chip that holds the information printed on the front of the ID (and possibly more) in order to allow computerized scanning of the IDs by a standard reader. This requirement will force most states to create a new physical license that contains one of these technologies. Few if any states are likely to already incorporate such a technology on their licenses that will match the standard promulgated in the DHS regulations.

·        Address shielding. Another administrative headache for the states will stem from the Act's requirement that IDs include each person's "address of principle residence."  Currently, many states have chosen to shield the addresses of certain individuals, such as judges, police officers and victims of criminal harassment or stalking. The Act does not contain any measure to exempt those individuals or others like them from being forced to disclose their home address, yet states will come under enormous pressure to do so.

New Information Technology Infrastructures

Real ID will also require many or all states to build new computer and communications systems, or rebuild existing systems. The new requirements include:

·        Database changes. The requirement that ID cards include a machine-readable component will likely involve further changes to state databases. That is because in order for information to be commonly accessible, not only must the physical technology be the same, but the information must be stored in the same format.

·        Interstate sharing. Real ID requires that each state construct the ability to provide all the other states with access to the information contained in its motor vehicle database - creating, in effect, a single national distributed database operated by the states. The statute is vague on implementation of this distributed database, but it will almost certainly require fundamental and costly changes to state motor vehicle databases. ID data elements will likely have to be reconfigured so that they are displayed and stored in the same format from state to state. States will need to buy new software and hardware and convert their existing databases to the new standard. If a dedicated communications network is necessary, states may also need to build fiber optic links with other states.

·        Records handling. Some states outsource the maintenance of their records to private third parties, and may have to break existing contracts in order to bring such records in house so that they can be searchable as part of the larger national database. Others will need to engage in significant technological upgrades; some still do not employ digital technology for photo capture, for example.

·        Document storage. Real ID also requires the states to retain a digital scan of source identity documents like birth certificates for at least 10 years (or a paper copy for 7 years). That means a DMV worker must scan and store three or four source documents for each applicant. States will have to purchase, install and maintain scanners and other hardware, computer storage space, retrieval and transmission mechanisms and other software for running these systems.

·        Security. The Real ID Act requires that states ensure the physical and electronic security of identification materials. The act does not set standards for that security, but with millions of individuals' sensitive personal information - a goldmine for identity thieves - slated to be digitally scanned and stored by DMVs, and shared with counterparts across the continent through the distributed database, security will need to be tight indeed. Encryption systems, customized access control applications, firewalls, and secure physical locations for the production of cards will all be expensive and difficult to administer. As always, internal security will be one of the most difficult and burdensome - yet vital - components of this system, especially in light of the fact that numerous DMV workers around the nation have been caught engaging in identity theft or other abuses.

Document Verification

What may prove to be the most significant burden that Real ID will impose on DMVs is the requirement that states "shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented" to get a Real ID identity card. Such verification will be enormously time and labor intensive and may force DMVs to greatly expand their conception of their mission.

The required documents that will need to be verified include a photo identity document, proof of date of birth, proof of social security number (or proof of lack of eligibility for same), proof of address, and proof of citizenship or lawful immigration status. Each presents problems:

·        Birth certificate. The process for verifying a birth certificate, perhaps the core identity document in the United States, provides a good example of the administrative burdens that Real ID will create:

1.      A DMV will need to contact the municipality that issued the license and ask them confirm that they have a certain birth certificate on file. Over 6,000 different jurisdictions issue birth certificates within the United States alone.

2.      Because many of these files are not computerized, this will often require a clerk to locate the document from within paper files stretching back over many decades. This task may or may not be a priority for the local clerk, who may or may not have the resources to fulfill a stream of such requests.

3.      Because birth certificates are not standardized, the DMV employee and the local clerk will likely need to somehow compare copies of the certificate in order to verify the "issuance, validity and completeness" of the document as the law requires.

4.      The motor vehicle employee will then have to certify completion of this verification process.

5.      In some cases, birth certificates will not be able to be verified. Over the decades, records are lost, accidentally destroyed or rendered suspect due to fraud or malfeasance. A few people are not sure where and/or when they were born. Real ID is silent on how such cases should be handled, so DMVs will need to figure out if such individuals will simply be denied identity papers, or if they can be processed in some other way consistent with the Act.

6.      This process must be completed for each of the more than 190 million US license holders.

·        Other IDs. Similar burdens will exist in verifying other documents like military and other federal IDs, US and foreign passports and student IDs.

·        Proof of Social Security Number. States are required to verify that an individual has a valid social security number. The Act further requires that "In the event that a social security account number is already registered to or associated with another person . . . the State shall resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action."  What "appropriate action" entails is strikingly ambiguous.

·        Proof of address. The requirement that states verify a document "showing the person's name and address of principal residence" is also problematic. That is currently done by presenting a utility bill or other third-party document (individuals who have just moved into a state will not likely have any other proof of address). Yet utility companies have no incentive to spend money answering queries from the DMV all day. In addition, many individuals who are legally eligible for a license will not be able to meet this requirement, such as teenagers seeking their first license, college students or others living in temporary housing, or individuals who do not keep any bills in their name. States will have to figure out how to deal with such cases.

·        Immigration status. The complexity of our immigration laws rivals that of our tax code, and the variety of legal categories that allow an individual to obtain legal status in the United States is large - as are the types of documents that verify that status. This verification requirement will effectively force local motor vehicle departments to become experts in this tangled area of American law.

Major Problems

The above makes it clear that there are at least two additional major problems with the verification provisions of Real ID:

·        Investigative ability. States will in many circumstances be forced to either deny driver's licenses to a large number of their citizens (potentially stranding them without any means to obtain a federally recognized ID) or attempt to resolve verification difficulties. Persons whose birth certificates cannot be verified, whose Social Security Numbers show as being "associated with" another person, or who do not have the means to supply a proof of address, must either be denied a Real ID or somehow subject to further investigation to ascertain the legitimacy of their documents. Aside from the disturbing implications of creating a corps of government investigators probing through the backgrounds of innocent individuals, such labor-intensive investigative functions are not within the capacity or expertise of existing DMVs, and would have to be built from the ground up or outsourced to external entities most likely at significant expense.

·        A major conceptual flaw. The document-verification provisions of the act require DMVs to ask for help from other organizations throughout the US - local cities, towns, and counties, government agencies, bureaucracies, and private companies such as utilities - without giving DMVs any way to force those organizations to actually take on the burden and expense of complying with those requests. The Act provides no method for the state or federal government to compel compliance. The predictable result will be that these organizations will drag their feet and cooperate, if at all, by devoting the fewest possible personnel and other resources to such tasks. Slow, sloppy, and inefficient results will inevitably follow.

Personnel

One of the most significant new burdens on states will be the additional personnel that they will have to hire and oversee in order to perform the many new required functions described above:

·        Document scanning & storage. The requirement to scan and store applicants' source documents for 7 years will demand not only new hardware and software, but also I.T. workers to maintain this technology, new front-line employees to make up for the additional time each worker spends performing these functions, and additional managers to coordinate all of this. Other I.T. mandates such as the requirement to interconnect state databases will impose similar personnel demands.

·        Document verification. The Act's document-verification requirements promise to be the most labor-intensive part of compliance. No one really knows what it will take to comply with this mandate, whether it be more front-line DMV clerks spending hours on the phone trying to reach registrar's offices in small towns, a back-office army of investigators and document researchers, more I.T. personnel to build and run automated account-verification systems set up with a state's utilities, or all of the above.

·        Appeals. A large number of individuals will inevitably be denied driver's licenses because DMV personnel decide that their proof of legal residency or other required documents are not "in order."  However, people are not going to simply give up when it comes to their driver's licenses; in most parts of the United States, one simply cannot function without a car. The fact that Real IDs will be required for a no doubt growing list of federal activities will only add to the imperative to get one. The result is that DMVs will need to deal with an avalanche of appeals by angry drivers that are likely to include not only legal challenges, but the intervention of state and federal legislators.

·        Security. Computer security is an increasingly specialized field, and the heavy security needs that come with handling and storing so many people's sensitive documents and information will require each state to buy and administer considerable additional security expertise.

·        New clearance requirements. Real ID requires that state employees who are authorized to manufacture ID cards must be subject to "appropriate security clearance requirements."

·        New training requirements. The Act also requires relevant state employees to undergo "fraudulent document recognition training programs."

 

 


FAQ on Discrimination Issues with Real ID

Why Real ID Will Cause New Discrimination Against Many U.S. Citizens and Immigrants

(Compiled by ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project)

1. Does REAL ID require U.S. citizens to prove that they are citizens?

Yes. Under REAL ID, every person who applies for a driver's license must prove to a DMV clerk that he or she is a U.S. citizen (or legal permanent resident). DMV clerks must decide whether an applicant is a citizen (or qualifying immigrant) before issuing a license. And that type of license issued depends on the applicant's citizenship and immigration status.

2. Will REAL ID cause discrimination against citizens?

Yes. REAL ID will inevitably cause discrimination against U.S. citizens who may "look" or "sound" foreign to a DMV bureaucrat. REAL ID requires DMV employees to decide whether someone is a citizen or foreigner before issuing a driver's license. The law demands that DMV bureaucrats distinguish among citizens, permanent resident immigrants and other non-citizens in deciding who is eligible for a license and what type of license may be issued. These requirements mean that DMV employees must make difficult and subtle judgments about complex immigration issues and must decide who is a citizen and who is not.

Based on past experience when similar requirements were imposed on employers, widespread discrimination resulted against citizens who "looked" or "sounded" foreign. As a result, Latino, Asian and other citizens, Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, and citizens who spoke with accents or were not fluent in English all suffered discrimination. We believe that experience will be repeated and that REAL ID will cause more severe discrimination than these past examples.

3. Which citizens are at risk of being discriminated against?

If DMV employees are required to verify who is a U.S. citizen, the DMV will be suspicious of anyone who "looks" or "sounds" foreign. Anyone who appears foreign in the opinion of a DMV bureaucrat is at risk of being denied a license or being subjected to greater scrutiny and suspicion.

Citizens of color, persons with accents, those with limited English ability or fluency, and anyone who "seems" foreign to a DMV bureaucrat is likely to be interrogated more, to have his or her documents scrutinized with suspicion, to be treated as suspect, and to be denied a license or targeted for further questioning or investigation. If a person does not satisfy the DMV employee, he or she may be denied a license altogether or be told that he or she is eligible only for a second- (or third-) tier license. Based on experiences in states where similar laws have been enacted, some citizens are likely to have their documents seized, be told they are ineligible for licenses, be accused of fraud, or be demeaned and discriminated against in other ways.

4. How does REAL ID work? How will DMV employees decide who is a citizen and who is a qualifying immigrant?

REAL ID requires states to determine an applicant's citizenship and immigration status before issuing a new or renewal license. Different categories of licenses must be issued depending on whether an applicant is a citizen or non-citizen. Only citizens and a few categories of noncitizens (such as legal permanent residents, i.e., those with "green cards") and a few others are entitled to a full-fledged, first-class license.

Other non-citizens who are legally entitled to be in the United States, but who do not fit within the preferred category, are eligible only for a temporary "tier-two" license that is clearly labeled as a temporary license and has a prominent expiration date.

If states decide to issue driver's licenses to non-citizens who do not fit within either category, then the state must issue them a tier-three license. This license must be clearly marked to distinguish it from the tier-one and tier-two, and it must be specifically labeled as "not valid for federal identification" purposes. This tier-three "bulls-eye" license marks anyone who has it as a suspected undocumented immigrant.

5. How will DMV employees decide who gets which kind of license?

REAL ID imposes extensive documentation requirements on everyone who applies for a license. Every citizen must prove that he or she is entitled to a tier-one license. This means that DMV officials must review and verify many kinds of documentation and use their judgment and discretion to determine who qualifies as a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Citizens and legal permanent residents who look, sound, or seem "foreign" to a DMV employee will be scrutinized with suspicion, may be required to submit additional proof, and might even have their documents confiscated as fraudulent or invalid.

6. Is the fear of discrimination based on actual experiences? Are there any examples of this kind of discrimination in other similar contexts?

Yes. Examples from the past and present show that the threat of discrimination is real and that citizens and legal residents will suffer discrimination if REAL ID is implemented.

·        The 1986 federal employer sanctions law requiring employers to verify citizenship and immigration status of new employees has caused widespread discrimination against citizens who employers think look or sound foreign. REAL ID will have the same or an even worse impact because DMV bureaucrats are more likely to deny a license than an employer is to turn away a qualified worker. DMV employees have every incentive to deny licenses rather than to issue them to anyone they deem suspicious.

o       The 1986 "employer sanctions" law (enacted by IRCA) requires every employer to verify that every new employee is a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant entitled to work. (I-9 form). The highly-respected, non-partisan GAO concluded that sanctions caused "a widespread pattern of discrimination" on the basis of national origin and "on the basis of the person's foreign appearance or accent...and on the basis of citizenship status."

o       Because the ACLU and other organizations voiced concern that the sanctions would cause discrimination, the 1986 law required the GAO to study the impact of sanctions for three years and to determine whether sanctions had led to discrimination against citizens or authorized immigrants. In 1990, the GAO found that employers were discriminating against job applicants with a foreign appearance or accent. The GAO also found that many employers admitted to not hiring persons who presented Puerto Rican birth certificates (who are U.S. citizens) because of the applicants' appearance or accent and the employer's suspicions about the validity of the work eligibility document. The levels of discrimination were found especially high in areas with higher Latino and Asian populations.

·        Tennessee's new 2004 driver's license law is similar to REAL ID and has resulted in discrimination against citizens and authorized immigrants.

o       Tennessee offers a preview of REAL ID's impact. In 2004, Tennessee passed a law that restricts full-fledged driver's licenses to those who can prove that they are citizens or certain categories of immigrants. Everyone else is eligible only for a driving "certificate" which is not valid for identification purposes under state law.

o       The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) has received many complaints of discrimination resulting from the Tennessee law, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has filed a lawsuit challenging some aspects of the law. TIRRC and the LULAC suit report the following incidents:

·        U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico
A U.S. citizen went to the DMV office to renew her license. She presented her Puerto Rican birth certificate and social security card. The DMV clerk accused the applicant of having purchased the documents, implying that she was in the country illegally. When the applicant explained that she was a U.S. citizen by birth, the clerk replied that Puerto Rico was not a part of the United States. The clerk confiscated the birth certificate and social security card, and the applicant received a license only through the intervention of a lawyer.

·        Limited English Proficiency
A
U.S. citizen by birth with limited English proficiency went to renew his license with the help of a family member. The DMV clerk prohibited the family member from answering a question and ordered the family member away from the counter. When the applicant could not answer a question about the Puerto Rican flag, the DMV clerk told him, "Puerto Ricans know English and you don't." The clerk confiscated the applicant's Puerto Rican birth certificate and social security card.

·        Refugees
A refugee entitled to a full-fledged license under
Tennessee law showed her documentation stamped refugee and was told that the document was not acceptable and had her license confiscated. The DMV employee told her that she was eligible only for a driving certificate.

·        Legal Permanent Residents
A thirty-year legal resident of Tennessee applied for a Tennessee license. She presented her green card, her Nicaraguan passport and her Florida driver's license. The DMV clerk accused her of submitting fraudulent documents, confiscated all of them, and told her that they would be turned over to State Troopers. The applicant was humiliated and tried to report the incident to the police, which refused to write a report. Only after obtaining legal counsel was the applicant able to recover her Nicaraguan passport but her green card and Florida license were not returned. The DMV insisted that the applicant's documents were fraudulent and that its employees did not need any further training on distinguishing between valid and fraudulent documents.

o       Because the Tennessee driving "certificate" is not valid for identification under state law, individuals who carry it are more vulnerable to arrest. For example, Tennessee law provides that individuals who commit a misdemeanor may be issued a citation instead of being arrested if they provide identification. Since the certificate does not qualify as valid identification, local law enforcement officials could arrest drivers for misdemeanor offenses instead of issuing them citations.

7. Will REAL ID discriminate in other ways against people of color?

The documentation requirements of REAL ID will disproportionately affect the poor and people of color (who are more likely to be poor according to the 2000 census). For example, REAL ID requires that each driver's license include the person's principal address. That means that those who do not own homes and hence move more often will be required to update their address and pay a filing fee more frequently than others. This impact will fall disproportionately on the poor.

If the REAL ID driver's license becomes the de facto requirement for entering a federal building or boarding an airplane, those who cannot afford the license fee will be further isolated and subjected to societal discrimination. Unless the states provide a generous fee waiver for driver's licenses, a significant number of citizens and legal permanent residents of color will be left with no means to board a plane or enter a federal courthouse.

8. Will immigrants suffer other forms of discrimination if REAL ID is implemented?

Yes. Any person who receives only a tier-two or tier-three ("bulls-eye") license will automatically be identified as a non-citizen every time she or he shows the license for any purpose. That means merchants, landlords, hotel employees, building guards and countless other private individuals as well as police officers and all other government agents will be immediately tempted (or required) to treat that person differently. There has already been a rise in private discrimination against non-citizens since 9/11 by some landlords, banks and commercial institutions. These policies and practices are likely to increase significantly if driver's licenses label people based on immigration status.

9. Does the REAL ID contain any anti-discrimination provisions?

No. There are no provisions in REAL ID that address or prohibit discrimination by DMV employees and there is no administrative remedy for those who experience discrimination when trying to obtain a license.

When Congress enacted employer sanctions, the law included anti-discrimination provisions and created a new federal agency to enforce them. Nonetheless, sanctions caused widespread discrimination. Now, despite the grave threat of massive discrimination as a result of REAL ID, the law does nothing to prevent or punish illegal or discriminatory DMV actions.

10. Why is the threat of discrimination not a more central part of the campaign to repeal REAL ID?

The campaign to repeal REAL ID recognizes and condemns the discrimination that REAL ID will cause against citizens and non-citizens alike. We believe this is a key reason why REAL ID should be repealed, and we believe that the civil rights community should educate the public about the discrimination REAL ID will cause if implemented.

We also recognize that the campaign to repeal REAL ID should not be limited to the discrimination issue and that many members of the public who do not share our concern about the discriminatory impact of REAL ID will oppose the law on the grounds of privacy, data-sharing and the fear of a national ID. We support these efforts in the hope that a broad segment of the public will recognize the negative impact of REAL ID on civil rights and civil liberties.

 

 


DMVs Say Real ID Will Be a Real Nightmare

 

Nationwide Survey of DMVs Reveals that Real ID Will Be a Real Nightmare to Implement

 

Newly uncovered documents reveal that state officials believe that federal legislation called the Real ID Act will require extensive changes to existing practices at motor vehicles departments, will be extremely difficult to implement by the Act's deadline, and will carry heavy expenses.

The survey, which was unveiled by the Associated Press, was conducted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, apparently to take a sounding of
the states' challenges and readiness for tackling compliance with the federal Real ID mandate. The states' responses reveal widespread concern about various provisions of the Act, and a general skepticism that implementation will even be possible by the 2008 federal deadline.

White paper on significance of DMV survey
ACLU Press release: Real ID Legislation a Real Nightmare to Implement, State Officials Report (1/12/2006)

Survey Documents

·        AAMVA report summarizing findings of survey

·        AAMVA Survey -- all responses bundled

·        Responses to survey -- by state

·        New AAMVA survey currently being conducted

Excerpts from survey responses by state motor vehicles administrators:

"Establishing direct connections with all other states and jurisdictions, esp. in the absence of uniform standards for information exchange, would be a nightmare for all states. (Can we go home now??)"
--Illinois

"This is a large effort. On a scale of 1 to 10, this rates as a 10 effort."
--New Jersey


"No database exists for electronic checking [licenses from other jurisdictions]; manual process would be very time consuming if not impossible - cost to develop unknown."
--Nebraska

"If the Real ID Act is similar to the DL/ID Security Framework which proposes that we have room to capture 100 characters for an individual's full legal name, it will be impossible for use to do this with our current system. We would not be able to implement this data element/feature until we get a new system."
--
Vermont

"How will we determine that social security needs to provide additional information? Currently, the customer resolves discrepancies with social security prior to a product being issued. This would be impossible for the states to resolve."
--Pennsylvania

 

 



ACLU White Paper on DMV Survey

 

The Motor Vehicle Administrators
Survey on Real ID

An ACLU White Paper

 

The results of 2005 survey of state motor vehicles agencies conducted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) reveal that those officials have deep concerns over the Real ID Act, and believe it will require extensive changes to existing practices at motor vehicles departments, will be extremely difficult to implement by the act's deadline, and will be very expensive to carry out. The survey makes clearer than ever that the Real ID Act would be a disaster for states, drivers, taxpayers, immigrants, and citizens.

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in May 2005. It would federalize state driver's license and identity cards by imposing a broad array of regulations on how they are designed, issued, and verified - turning them into what are, for all practical purposes, America's first-ever national identity cards.

Because the Act was rammed through Congress without proper hearings, debate, expert input, or an up-or-down vote, it fails to reflect the realities and complexities of real-world motor vehicle agencies in the 50 states. This is starkly revealed by the survey, in which officials in those agencies (called "DMV's" in many states) describe their concerns about the task of complying with this sprawling federal mandate. In written responses that are often scathing, plaintive, befuddled, or anxious, DMV officials from 50 U.S. jurisdictions collectively paint a picture of a gargantuan overhaul of the nation's diverse driver's license and identity bureaucracies.

The survey, which was first reported by the Associated Press, makes two things very clear. First, the DMVs are beginning to understand just what a tangled mess they are facing in having to try to comply with Real ID. And second, those effects will soon be felt by individual drivers and residents. In addition to worrying about the ominous privacy implications of creating a system of federal identity papers, Americans under Real ID are looking at a future of longer lines and worsening service at the DMV, more complicated document requirements, higher fees and/or taxes, bureaucratic dead-ends, and, for many, an outright denial of IDs - even as those IDs are made more indispensable for living a normal life. (Further analysis of the burdens Real ID poses for the states is available in the document "Real Burdens.")


DMVs Face Highly Impractical Mandates

The DMV administrators' survey responses make it clear that as a group these professionals consider many of Real ID's mandates to be highly impractical and, within the deadline set by Congress, impossible. Examples include:

Document Verification

The Real ID Act includes a requirement that states "shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented" to get a Real ID card. Although some states report having in place methods for verifying social security numbers and a few other particular items, many regard the construction of such systems as a major obstacle. And the administrators nearly all pointed out that currently, there is absolutely no way for DMVs to perform that function with regard to birth certificates, which are issued by over 6,000 jurisdictions in the United States alone.

·        Nevada wrote that this requirement would bring a "Large fiscal impact and unreasonable delays in processing," while Vermont complained that "We do not have the funds or personnel to implement these systems."

·        Since it is highly unlikely that all state vital record agencies will be electronically connected for authentication upon the effective date of the legislation, how are verifications of birth certificates expected to be handled?" (Maryland)

·        New York thought it could mitigate some of the impact of this requirement, but concluded, "Still, we will see an increase in transaction times, requiring as many as 200 additional field staff to handle this effort."
One administrator concluded, "Illinois is like every state in that we are currently unable to comply with this for every breeder document."

Overall, 76% of the states reported that this requirement's impact would be "high" (requiring "Major reprogramming, training, legislation/major costs") or "medium" (requiring "policy changes, computer programming").

Interconnection of State Databases

Real ID requires that each state build the ability to provide all the other states with access to the information contained in its motor vehicle database - creating, in effect, a single national distributed database operated by the states. The survey made it clear that administrators have no idea how this will happen.

·        Illinois: "Establishing direct connections with all other states and jurisdictions, esp. in the absence of uniform standards for information exchange, would be a nightmare for all states. (Can we go home now??)"

·        Nebraska: "No database exists for electronic checking [licenses from other jurisdictions] - manual process would be very time consumming if not impossible."

·        New Jersey observed simply, "On a scale of 1 to 10, this rates as a 10 effort."

Overall, 47% of the state respondents said this requirement would have a high or medium impact. Many pointed out that the sharing of information from state driver's databases would require their legislatures to change their state laws.

Full Names

Some of the Real ID mandates might seem straightforward to a layman, but actually represent devilishly complicated alterations to the complex of computer programs, databases, personnel systems, breeder documents, and identity cards that make up modern DMVs.

One example cited by many of the survey respondents is Real ID's requirement that compliant identity papers contain individuals' full legal names. To begin with, many breeder documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, and passports do not always contain consistent renderings of a person's name. Even more worrisome for many administrators is the fact that, because a portion of the population possess extremely long names, the use of full names would require the reprogramming of computer databases and program interfaces, as well as the physical cards themselves, to allow for a name field that is a recommended to be at least 100 (some say 126) characters long.

·        "If the Real ID Act is similar to the DL/ID Security Framework which proposes that we have room to capture 100 characters for an individual's full legal name, it will be impossible for us to do this with our current system. We would not be able to implement this data element/feature until we get a new system." (Vermont)

·        The "Impact of expanding these fields would be costly without benefit." (Kentucky)

·        Many states echoed Arizona's list of effects this seemingly simple requirement would have: "change to current process. Requires database expansion and programming changes. Requires legislation. Requires funding."

A third of the states, where driver's licenses already allowed for long name fields, said the requirement would not affect them - but 47% percent said the impact would be "high."

Scanner/Electronic Capture

Many states also reported that Real ID's requirement that states to retain a digital scan of source identity documents like birth certificates for at least 10 years (or a paper copy for 7 years) would have a major impact on their operations.

·        Kentucky, for example, wrote that "This would be a very huge impact" upon the state and that it "could require up to additional 300 people to handle additional workload."

·        Nebraska estimated this provision would have an "impact in the millions of dollars," while New Jersey warned it would have a "significant influence on customer service."

·        Other states mentioned the purchase of new equipment, policy changes, training, the remodeling or redesign of offices, and computer software, development and storage costs.

Overall, 82% of the respondents predicted a medium-to-high impact from this requirement.

Other Troublesome Requirements

These were far from the only other requirements of Real ID that troubled the experts in the states. A few of the others were:

·        Reconciliation with the Social Security Administration of discrepancies in social security numbers ("Impossible for the states to resolve" - Pennsylvania)

·        Tying the expiration dates of IDs to the end of an immigrant's authorized stay in the country ("cannot do with existing staff" - Nebraska). Many also pointed out that this was not permitted under their current state laws.

·        Requiring proof of "legal presence" in the United States from immigrants. ("Statutory, system, policy, and procedural changes would be necessary" - Virginia)

Problems Even Greater Than Survey Reflects

Despite the page after page of problems highlighted by the motor vehicles officials in this survey, many of them also appear to consistently underestimate just how tough and uncompromising the legal requirements in the Real ID Act are. Some of the responses breeze over what will in reality be knotty problems. On the requirement that states reconcile social security number problems, for example, Iowa wrote simply, "We're going to send the customer to the SSA." That is not at all what the law directs.

In addition, despite the administrators' negative response to Real ID, the survey (which included space for respondents to list the assumptions on which they based their answers) was chock full of over-optimistic assumptions about the help that would be provided to the state. On the requirement to verify source documents, for example, Kansas officials responded simply, "can be done when systems are in place for Kansas to connect to." Many states based their responses on assumptions that the Real ID regulations, when they are issued by the Department of Homeland Security, will match the technical standards already in use in their state - something that will not be the case for many if the regulations are to impose standardization. California's assumption, for example, "is that security features and machine-readable requirements will be similar to existing feature technology."

Basic Questions Remain

For a group of professionals expert in the administration of motor vehicle agencies, the large number of unanswered questions listed by the respondents on very basic questions about Real ID is very telling about the poor construction of the law. Examples include:

·        "What is truly meant by 'address verification'?" (California)

·        "Does State Dept. intend to have ability to verify U.S. passports?" (Illinois)

·        "What happens to Wisconsin residents during the transition time, i.e., after REAL ID is implemented, but before their license expires? If they need to board a plane, do they have to get a new license?"

Some states provided long lists of such questions about the act.

Many of the states also posed anxious questions about how they could possibly meet the compliance deadline set forth in the Real ID legislation. "The Act requires that all states implement in a three (3) year period," noted the New Jersey respondent. "States cannot move their entire population through a new standard of licensing in that time period." Missouri warned that "Three years is a very short period of time considering the requirements and the systems that are still under development," and Illinois that "3 years is a very short time, with two state budget and legislative cycles at most."

Especially common were pleas that Homeland Security issue its rules to clarify these issues with as much speed as possible (however, at this writing the rules are not expected until summer 2006 at the earliest - too late for the year's state legislative sessions). Concluded Oregon: "There are too many unknowns to accurately analyze the impact" of Real ID.

Tremendous Diversity of Practices

The survey serves as an excellent reminder that America still remains at heart a federal system, and that Real ID is attempting to steamroll over the variety of ways states have chosen to issue licenses, promising even more complexity and disruption.

·        In Kentucky, licenses are issued over the counter by court clerk offices, rather than DMV employees.

·        Alabama: "In our state, probate judges and license commissioners act as agents of the state in issuing duplicate driver licenses."

·        Nebraska: "By statute we are tied to using the county treasurers (locally elected officials) as agents for the DMV. The counties issue all of the documents. This process does not lend itself well to complying with the new federal standards. Nebraska may have to consider extreme measures and possibly a complete reorganization."

·        In Oklahoma, "DL Examiners (state employees) verify documentation and authorize issuance of the DL/ID, which is done by a third party vendor. Oklahoma has 280 third party issuance sites."

In addition, many states face particular problems for implementation of Real ID. Oregon, for example, reported a statute (similar to those in some other states) "that allows police officers and other authorized personnel to use their agency address in lieu of their actual residence address. Will the Real ID Act stop us from allowing this?" Vermont reported that background checks for workers "is a huge issue. The Vermont State Employees Association (Union) may not wish to have their members undergo background checks."

Overall, the portrait that emerges from these survey responses is of a group of experts trying their best to anticipate and plan for a sweeping, ill-conceived law that threatens to bring incredible disruption to their states' carefully constructed systems for the administration of driver's licenses. "It is very difficult to put into just a few words the impact of the Real ID requirements," as the Nebraska respondent put it.

The Inevitable Results

Unfortunately, although it is motor vehicle departments that are beginning to feel the heat now, it will ultimately be individuals - as drivers, taxpayers, citizens, or immigrants - who will pay the price for this misguided legislation.

A Decline in Public Service

Many DMVs around the nation have made great strides in recent years in improving customer service and reforming their image as the standard for a bad government bureaucracy. These service improvements have included such advances as shorter lines and waiting times, Internet ordering of renewals and replacement licenses, mobile service trucks, and many others.

However, according to the nation's DMV administrators, Real ID will do away with many of these customer-friendly innovations.

·        Longer waits at the DMV. Many states predict increases in "customer wait times." Arizona, for example, reports that Real ID will bring increased "customer traffic flow and customer wait/visit time in all field offices" and New Jersey that it will have a "significant influence on customer service."

·        No more same-day licenses. Real ID "could largely prevent 'instant' or 'over the counter' (OTC) issuance of some or all of our DLs and IDs" in Illinois, and "will probably move Indiana from relatively instant issuance to having to mail documents to them." Nevada predicts that "the process for issuing a driver's license or identification card could range from 2 to 6 weeks pending approval of verified documents."

·        Fewer offices. "Initial cost estimates indicate that . . .WI may have to close some itinerant field stations, especially if there are no federal funds available." (Wisconsin)

·        No more Internet or mail transactions. In Illinois Real ID "could reduce or end mail and Internet address changes and renewals"; likewise Virginia warns starkly that "Renewal through alternative methods will be eliminated."

·        Document inconvenience. "We will have to significantly reduce the number and type of acceptable documents used." (Illinois)

·        No more mobile offices. Real ID "may significantly limit mobile unit use, perhaps make mobiles impractical." (Illinois)

Higher Costs

Many of the respondents refer bitterly to the fact that Real ID will be enormously expensive, yet includes no funding from the federal government. Over and over again the state respondents ask, as Maine put it, "Who will pay the hundreds of millions or even billions which this currently unfunded federal mandate will cost in individual states and across the nation."

If Real ID goes forward, the DMVs will have to raise fees and turn to legislators to secure new funding so citizens aren't left without identity documents that permit them to fly, enter federal courthouses, or carry out other necessary activities that count as "federal purposes" (a list that is sure to expand).  But beyond the DMVs' struggle for funds lies the undeniable fact that when all is said and done, it will be the residents of the states who pay - not only in hassle, delay, and inconvenience, but in higher fees and/or taxes. Real ID's supporters may have slid it through Congress without the proper democratic process, but that does not make it any less of a real nightmare, pure and simple.

 

 

 

Text of Real ID Law


Download Text of the Law (48 KB)

 

 

 

NCSL Summary of Real ID Act


Summary of Real ID Act by National Conference of State Legislators (142KB)

 

 

 

Real Costs

 

Estimates for Real ID's Cost Rely on Fuzzy Math; Still Not Enough Federal Funding for States


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initially estimated that nationwide implementation would cost over $23 billion, roughly in line with estimates from independent groups like the National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislators.  In its final regulations for implementation, published January 11, 2008, DHS significantly scaled back its cost estimate, from $23 billion to $9.9 billion.  However, a close look at the cost table in the regulations (p. 221) compared with the Department’s dubious assumptions and the requirements of the statute make it clear that DHS is practicing fuzzy math and grossly underestimating the real costs.

Read the ACLU's White Paper, "Fuzzy Math and the Real Cost of Real ID" here.

"I think the concept, though, was that this -- like all driver's licenses -- is largely a fee-based system, and that, ultimately, the cost of building Real ID should be amortized over the driver's license fee."

-- Sec. Michael Chertoff, speaking before Senate Homeland Security Committee Hearing, February 13, 2007.


The President's budget request contained only $150 million for Real ID in FY 2009, that's less than two tenths one percent of DHS's estimated cost.  See the appropriation forecast for Real ID in the Department of Homeland Security budget appendix
here.

The President's budget contained no appropriation for Real ID in FY 2008.  See the appropriation forecast for Real ID in the Department of Homeland Security budget appendix
here.

A number of national bodies have attempted to quantify the high cost of complying with the Real ID Act:

What States Must Consider: "Real Costs: Assessing the Financial Impact of the Real ID Act on the States." PDF >

National Conference of State Legislature's Real ID "Impact Report," estimating floor costs of $11 billion nationally.  PDF >

 

 

 


Real Example: The Alabama Mess

The Alabama Mess: One State Tries to Begin Tackling Real ID

State administrators, governors, and others have been warning about the disruption and chaos that actual implementation of Real ID will likely bring. This is not mere speculation, however - one attempt to begin initiating early compliance with the law already created such enormous confusion and disruption that it had to be halted.

One of the Real ID Act's requirements is that names on compliant driver's licenses must exactly match individuals' names as held by the Social Security Administration. Noting this, officials in Alabama decided to get a head start on complying with that aspect of the law. The state's motor vehicles department (the Department of Public Safety or DPS), began sending letters to individuals whose records were mismatched, demanding that they correct the "erroneous" information on their driver's licenses.

The result was a fiasco. Thousands of panicked Alabama residents jammed DPS offices worried that they would lose their right to drive. And, because the state began its records review with the oldest records, many of the reported 65,000-80,000 drivers who got letters were senior citizens.

Many recipients of the letter - some of whom had been driving for 50 yeaars or longer - became panicked that they would lose their means of traveling around the largely rural state. Many elderly drivers were also reportedly worried that their Social Security checks or pensions would be interrupted if they did not "fix" the problem right away. "Here are people who have been law-abiding citizens all their lives, and then they get this letter," state legislator Neal Morrison told the Associated Press. "It scared them to death."

Anyone whose name as recorded by the motor vehicles department differed by the slightest amount from the way their name was recorded by the Social Security Administration received a letter. Recipients were instructed that they had to visit a DPS office to "correct" their data before they would be allowed to renew their license. That included, for example, women who had changed their last name on one card but not the other after a marriage or divorce, people with nicknames, and even those with slight variations in their names, such as a middle initial appearing on one but not the other. In quintessential bureaucratic fashion, the letter informed individuals that the name as listed on their driver's license - though it might well be a person's preferred form of address - was "erroneous."

Many citizens were also angered by the delays and fees that they encountered when they tried to comply with the letter. One 70-year-old woman had to go to the motor vehicles office for three days straight, the AP reported, finally obtaining a new license on the third day after a two-and-a-half-hour wait. Then, she was asked to pay an $18 fee - the state's standard payment for a new or duplicate license - and she "hit the ceiling."  Another cost for many was the need to pay additional fees to obtain a new or replacement birth certificate.

Apologetic DPS officials halted the effort in the face of all these problems (including calls from state legislators who had heard from their constituents), and promised to try to lessen the problems by clarifying their explanations of the situation in future letters. Nevertheless, the fact remained that the cause of the disruption was not going to go away: the looming reality of the REAL ID Act. As the Alabama officials explained, "Public Safety regrets the inconvenience, aggregation and confusion this has caused licensed drivers, but we are mandated to do this by federal law."

Alabama's unfortunate experience trying to get a jump on implementing just one aspect of the sprawling Real ID legislation is merely a glimpse of what states and their residents can expect over the next few years if implementation of this legislation proceeds as scheduled. Bureaucratic hair-splitting, confusing instructions, long waits, overwhelmed offices, missed work, infuriating bureaucratic runarounds, and additional fees are what this legislation promises for Americans.  All for - what?

Sources

M.J. Ellington, "Your life on your license: Alabama a step ahead in national ID debate," The Decatur Daily News, May 13, 2005.

 

Mark Harrison, "License confusion possible," [Fort Payne, Alabama] Times-Journal, October 1, 2005.
 

Alan Elsner, "Road to digital driver's licenses chaotic," Reuters, October 10, 2005.
 

Associated Press and Decatur Daily News staff, "Alabama puts brakes on license notification," October 7, 2005.
 

 

 

 

For ACLU links to articles on privacy issues, go to:
Privacy and Technology


 

 

 

ACLU Calls for Internal DHS Investigations
on Fusion Centers


Former Members of Congress and Muslim
Rights Group Also Voice Concerns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org


WASHINGTON – As a Homeland Security Subcommittee in the House held a hearing on fusion centers today, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its vast concerns that these entities provide huge risks to Americans’ privacy rights.   

After testifying last week before the same committee – the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment – the ACLU sent five letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties urging investigations into five troubling incidents, several of which have stemmed from DHS-funded fusion centers.   

“Fusion centers have experienced a mission creep in the last several years, becoming more of a threat than a security device. With no overarching guidelines to restrict or direct them, these centers put Americans’ privacy at huge risk,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We need our government to take a long, hard look at what’s going into these centers and, frankly, what’s coming out.”  

Former Congressman Bob Barr, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have all expressed deep concerns about the practices of fusion centers. Statements from them can be found below.  

From directing local police to investigate non-violent political activists and religious groups in Texas to advocating surveillance of third-party presidential candidate supporters in Missouri, there have been repeated and persistent disclosures of troubling memos and reports from local fusions centers. The five letters sent by the ACLU to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties asked for independent investigations into the following incidents:

·        A May 7, 2008 report entitled “Universal Adversary Dynamic Threat Assessment” authored by a private contractor that labeled environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, the Humane Society and the Audubon Society as “mainstream organizations with known or possible links to eco-terrorism”;
 

·        A potential abuse of authority by DHS officials who improperly monitored and disseminated the communications of peace activists affiliated with the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN);
 

·        A report produced on February 19, 2009 by the North Central Texas Fusion System entitled “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” which described a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, the U.S. Treasury Department, hip hop bands and former Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney to “provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish”;
 

·        A “Strategic Report” produced February 20, 2009 by the Missouri Information Analysis Center that described a purported security threat posed by the “modern militia movement” but inappropriately included references to social, religious and political ideologies, including support of third party presidential candidates such as Congressman Ron Paul and former Congressman Bob Barr; and
 

·        A “Protective Intelligence Bulletin” issued by the DHS Intelligence Branch of the Threat Management Division of the Federal Protective Service which improperly collected and disseminated information regarding political demonstrations and inappropriately labeled peaceful advocacy groups and other activists as “extremists.” 

In 2007, the ACLU released a report entitled, “What’s Wrong with Fusion Centers?” which was updated last year. The report identifies specific concerns with fusion centers, including their ambiguous lines of authority, the troubling role of private corporations, the participation of the military, the use of data mining and the excessive secrecy surrounding the centers.   

The following can be attributed to former Congressman Bob Barr:
“Using the resources of federal and state law enforcement to encourage the citizenry to submit to the government information on the political, social and even religious views of other people, is in itself outrageous.  For the government to then data-base that information, disseminate it widely, and clearly imply that views with which it may disagree provides an appropriate basis on which to surveil citizens and collect information on them, is beyond the pale.  It is also a poor and inefficient use of police resources.”  

The following can be attributed to former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney:
“As a student of COINTELPRO, the government's infamous Counter-Intelligence Program, I know what my government is capable of doing to quash dissent. That's why I voted against the Patriot Act, worked in Congress to roll back the Secret Evidence Act, and introduced legislation to repeal the Military Commissions Act. I come from a long legacy of activists for justice and freedom inside this country. I am on the advocacy front lines for peace abroad and justice at home. But I know that we will not have peace or justice without truth. Truth is the foundation of the dignity that we seek. Dignity for all is not a threat to the United States.”   

The following can be attributed to The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization:  
“CAIR is deeply troubled that the North Central Texas Fusion System bulletin labels monitoring the legal activities of American Muslims exercising their constitutional privileges as ‘imperative.’ In light of similar monitoring of peace and anti-death penalty activists in Maryland, CAIR believes it is time for Congress to conduct a deeper evaluation of our nation’s new domestic surveillance infrastructure.  

“The author’s unprofessional presentation of known anti-Muslim sources as outlets of credible information also calls the integrity of the entire fusion system into doubt. This second point is an overt manifestation of the ‘Inaccurate or Incomplete Information’ identified in a December, 2008 Department of Homeland Security report on a number of risks to privacy presented by the fusion center program.   

“Based on this and other recent incidents and initiatives targeting the Muslim community nationwide, we are concerned that the rights of American Muslims to participate fully in our country’s political process and practice their faith free of government intrusion is under assault.”  


To read the ACLU’s letters to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, go to:

·        Universal Dynamic Threat Assessment Classifying Environmental Groups As "Ecoterrorists"

·        Improper Surveillance of Anti-War Activists in Maryland

·        The North Texas Fusion Center's "Prevention Awareness Bulletin"

·        The Threat Management Division Of Federal Protective Services' Improper Monitoring Of Civil Activists

·        Missouri Fusion Center's Strategic Report


To read the ACLU’s report on Fusion Centers, go to:

www.aclu.org/fusion
 



You Are Being Watched
 

An increasing number of American cities and towns are investing millions of taxpayer dollars in surveillance camera systems.  But few are closely examining the costs and benefits of those investments.  Visit youarebeingwatched.us to find out about video surveillance systems in cities across the US, and read expert findings on the effectiveness of CCTV. 

 



Are you living in a Constitution-free zone?

 

The extraordinary powers of customs and border agents to invade the privacy of individuals at the border are spreading inland and creating what amounts to a "Constitution-free Zone" that covers fully two-thirds of the American population. Using the latest census data, the ACLU has created a map showing the 100-mile "border region" claimed by the government, and cities and states that fall within it. More >>

 


Are 1,000,000 terrorists poised to strike America?

 

The ACLU marked the addition of the one millionth name to the DHS terrorist watchlist in an event on July 14, 2008.  The roll over of the "ACLU Watchlist Counter" to 1,000,000 confirms the warnings the ACLU has been making for years: the TSA is pinning American security on a system of watchlists that are bloated, inefficient, ineffective and unfair.   If you believe you have been harmed due to a U.S. government watchlist, use this form to share your story.

 

 


Links to Some Key Resources


> Medical Privacy and E-Medical Records
> What's Wrong With Public Video Surveillance?
> Data Mining
> SWIFT

> ACLU Report on Pandemic Preparedness
> Fusion Centers
> Combating the Surveillance Industrial Complex
> Surveillance
> How Monopoly Control of the Internet Threatens Free Speech
> Domestic Spy Satellites
> Forensic DNA Databanks
> Bigger Monsters, Weaker Chains
> Real ID
> 5 Reasons Not to Create a National ID Card
> Science Under Siege
> International Policy Laundering Project
> Airline Security
> Face-Recognition Technology
> The Growth of an American Surveillance Society
> Electronic Passports
> Financial Privacy
> The Cybercrime Treaty
> Position statement on RFIDs
> The FBI's Power to Rifle Through Your Records and Personal Belongings Without Telling You (PDF)
> Through the Keyhole: Privacy in the Workplace, an Endangered Right
> FAQ on the National Census
> Other ACLU Documents on Privacy

 



Latest News on Fusion Centers, Real ID, and Government Spying Issues

 

Fusion Center Declares Nations Oldest Universities Possible Terrorist Threat (4/6/2009)
WASHINGTON -- A recently published “terrorism threat assessment” from a Virginia fusion center says the state’s universities and colleges are “nodes for radicalization” and encourages law enforcement to monitor First Amendment-protected activities of educational and religious foundations as terrorism threats. The document, which drew concern today from the American Civil Liberties Union over its constitutional implications, also characterizes the “diversity” surrounding a Virginia military base and the state’s “historically black” colleges as possible threats. The March 2009 document, which claims there are currently at least fifty active “terrorist and extremist” groups in
Virginia, is posted on the website www.cryptome.com.

 

Governor Signs Virginia Law Refusing to Fully Comply with Real ID Act (4/2/2009)
Richmond, VA – Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has signed legislation prohibiting the state from complying with provisions of the federal REAL ID Act that compromise the privacy rights of the state's citizens.

 

ACLU Calls For Internal DHS Investigations On Fusion Centers (4/1/2009)
WASHINGTON – As a Homeland Security Subcommittee in the House held a hearing on fusion centers today, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its vast concerns that these entities provide huge risks to Americans’ privacy rights.

 

DHS To Review Spy Satellite Program At Urging of Congresswoman (3/27/2009)
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has asked for a review of the Department’s National Applications Office (NAO), a troubled program created to use satellite imagery from intelligence agencies for homeland security and law enforcement purposes. The review comes at the behest of House Homeland Security Committee members Jane Harman (D-CA) and Norman Dicks (D-WA). The move, disclosed in a March 25 letter to Representatives Harman and Dicks, follows criticism of this program by the American Civil Liberties Union, which testified on its opposition to the program before Congress in 2007.

 

ACLU Sues Wyoming County DA For Threatening Teenage Girls With Child Pornography Charges Over Photos Of Themselves (3/25/2009)
SCRANTON, PA - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit today against the Wyoming County district attorney for threatening three high school girls with child pornography charges over digital photos in which they appear topless or in their underwear. The district attorney has demanded that in order to avoid the charges, the girls be placed on probation, participate in a five-week re-education program and be subject to random drug testing. The photos were among several discovered by Tunkhannock School District officials on students' cell phones.

 

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