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Legislative commission’s subcommittee to discuss “Real ID” in Nevada


By Nevada News Bureau Staff: The Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Review Regulations will meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss the fate of the controversial “Real ID” in Nevada.

Citing concerns with both privacy and cost, numerous organizations have come out against the requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005 including the ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners of Nevada, Campaign for Liberty, the Cato Institute, National Immigration Law Center and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Though Congress has said the act is primarily intended to prevent identity fraud and has denied it would signal the dawn of national identity cards that could compromise the privacy of citizens, critics remain unconvinced.

“There is no security plan for protecting this information,” said a spokesperson from the Nevada chapter of the ACLU. “Instead, the federal government presumes that the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators will operate the database. However, this private association has no accountability to Nevada, and it is not bound by either the Privacy Act, which applies to federal agencies, or the Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act, which applies to state DMVs.”

Under the Real ID Act, states will be required to scan documentary evidence into a shared database including proofs of birth dates, legal and residency status and social security numbers.

Real ID cards will feature a two-dimensional, non-encrypted bar code containing personal information such as the citizen’s home address. Because the cards will not be encrypted, there are concerns that businesses and other organizations could potentially scan and store a customer’s home address along with other pieces of personal information.

If Real ID is fully implemented, a Real ID-compliant identification card will be required not only to board commercial aircraft but also to enter federal buildings including courthouses.

“Without a REAL ID card, a person’s due process rights, the right to trial before a jury of one’s peers, and the right to petition government officials could be significantly and detrimentally impacted,” said the ACLU spokesperson.

Pro gun groups are concerned that Real ID scanning and databases could be mis-used as a quasi-national gun registry because driver’s licenses are required for the purchase of guns.

Another concern is the cost of the unfunded mandate. Homeland Security estimates the total cost of implementing Real ID at $23.1 billion. There will also be an administrative burden on state DMVs which will be required to verify the legal status of all license applicants.

Notable in its support for Real ID when most other conservative and libertarian groups have objected, the Heritage Foundation has published memos in support of state-issued Real IDs. A 2008 memo explained:

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and the REAL ID Act of 2005 required that when key identification materials, such as driver’s licenses (and the documents used to obtain them, such as birth certificates), are issued at any level of government and used for a federal purpose, these documents must meet minimum national standards of authenticity. To prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or fraud, and to enhance privacy protections, the laws also established standard security features concerning identification cards and the processes for issuing them.

These laws are grounded in common sense. Administrators of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators had long recommended similar measures. Requiring more secure documents and procedures for issuance and monitoring is not a “silver bullet,” but this strategy will help to combat identity theft, fraud, and other crimes. Billions of dol­lars are lost each year due to identity theft, the fraudu­lent obtaining of government benefits, and other criminal activities related to this issue. Making identity credentials more secure will also help to enhance public safety at airports and other public venues.

Faced with objections from numerous states and the chaos that could ensue if people without Real IDs are denied boarding on commercial flights or entry into federal buildings, the Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the deadline for state compliance with the Real ID Act to May of 2011.

Tomorrow’s Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee meeting will take place tomorrow, Monday, April 19, at 2 PM in Las Vegas in the Grant Sawyer Building at 555 E. Washington Avenue, Rm 4401. The meeting will be video-conferenced live to both the Legislative Building in Carson City, Room 3137 and the Chilton Circle Modular Office Conference Room, Great Basin College in Elko.

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