Back on January 14th, 2008, I disclosed and discussed efforts by Alaska State Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-East Anchorage) to mitigate the worst excesses of Real ID by prefiling SB202, which would bar the use of Alaska state funds to comply with Real ID. SB202 is co-sponsored by Senators Kim Elton (D-Juneau), Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage), and Hollis French (D-Anchorage)
This bill is starting to receive legislative attention. On February 15th, the Anchorage Daily News reported on the first committee hearing for the bill. SB202 was heard before the State Affairs Committee on February 14th. A number of interested parties gave testimony, including representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
But what's even of greater interest is a comment posted by Senator Wielechowski (pictured above left) himself to the story. Scroll down to comment #40, and you'll see a summary of his specific objections, reproduced below:
Here are the main concerns:
- Section 201 of Real ID says that any time any citizen enters any federal facility, including courthouses, your Congressman's office, the IRS, or to visit a national park you must show your ID. Since Alaska has over 60% of all its land under federal control, most of Alaska would be under this provision. What concerns many people is that the law then gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the unilateral right to expand this use for "any other purposes."
- Section 202 of Real ID then requires that all ID's have "common machine-readable technology." Included in the required "minimum data elements" are biometric information. There have been official discussions about including DNA, retinal scans and other personal information. This technology, which is really not unusual, gives the government the ability to swipe your ID card every time you use your ID - at the bank, the hospital, the liquor store, etc. This information could then be recorded in a centralized database. When you purchase a gun, you must show your ID, which may be swiped and recorded under Real ID. Many gun owners are concerned that this will expand to a national gun registry, and that is why the Gun Owners of America oppose Real ID. In the proposed Real ID implementation rule, there was a provision for RFID - the inclusion of a radio chip in each ID card. The government could then scan your whereabouts without swiping your ID card. Fortunately, this was removed, but the final rule still allows states to include RFID chips.
- Under Section 202, the Act then requires the state to provide electronic access to every Alaskans' information "to all other States." Every DMV bureaucrat in the United States would then have access to every Alaskans' and Americans' personal data. Through treaties with Canada and Mexico, it is expected that this information will be shared with people in those countries. As Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said, "Who is to stop a corrupt foreign government official from selling or giving this information to human traffickers or even terrorists? Will this uncertainty make us feel safer?"
- Real ID also allows private corporations to work on the databases, giving them access to this information as well. If one local DMV or private corporation has inadequate security precautions, every Alaskan's and American's data will be at risk.
- As for costs, this is a federal mandate and will cost Alaska millions to implement. It requires that paper copies of all documents be kept for 7 years and electronic images for 10. The state must also "ensure the physical security" of its DMV offices, so we will likely have to hire armed guards and install metal detectors and other security precautions at our DMV offices. [Ed. Note: In Thursday's committee hearing, Alaska Department of Administration Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brooks, while disclosing that the DMV is already in partial compliance with Real ID standards, couldn't even provide a dollar figure for prospective state expenditures.]
- Alaska has some unique issues as well. Under Real ID, people must personally go to the DMV to be photographed and to present their papers to get their ID cards and for renewals. Of course, this will lead to very long lines, as most now renew by mail. However, since people will have difficulty flying without their ID card, it is unclear how those in the Bush without ID's will get to the DMV to get their Real ID cards, if they are required to fly to the DMV, yet do not yet have ID cards. [Ed. Note: Another example of a Federal law that imposes a Catch-22 upon Rural, or Bush Alaska. No Child Left Behind also initially imposed Catch-22 standards upon Bush Alaska as well.]
Presidential Candidate Ron Paul has given several rousing speeches in opposition to Real ID, HERE and HERE.
And of course, there were a few naysayers. While Senator Con Bunde (R-Anchorage Hillside), who occasionally supports intrusive legislation, acknowledged that Real ID does have deficiencies, he also played the 9-11 card as do so many swept up in the Homeland Security Cult by claiming that it's a different world because of 9-11. [Ed. Note: Different world, same old Constitution.]
But another issue Senator Wielechowski did not address is that it may be difficult for some American citizens to submit the necessary qualifying documentation to obtain Real ID credentials. Some, like Alaska author Heather Lende, may have been lazy and forgotten to formally record name changes. But others may not necessarily have the supporting documentation in their possession. Are we to disenfranchise such American citizens merely because they don't have the "right" documentation? That's where yet another Catch-22 situation emerges.
To learn more about how the Department of Homeland Security plans to implement Real ID, Click HERE to view the entire 162-page document in PDF format (scroll down to pages 32-56 to view core requirements and definitions).
The Alaska Libertarian Party has opposed Real ID from its very outset. They have a dedicated Real ID page, and also direct people to the Alaskans Against Real ID website. An excellent national website is RealNightmare.org
The Anchorage Daily News has also expressed editorial misgivings about Real ID in the past, documented HERE and HERE. The unanswered questions about Real ID make its implementation problematic. Suggest all Alaskans contact their lawmakers to express support for SB202. Click HERE to identify your lawmaker and get contact instructions.