Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Arizona poised to dump Real ID

From the Arizona Republic: "The Arizona Legislature is sending Gov. Janet Napolitano a bill barring the state from participating in new federal security standards for driver's licenses."

Those federal standards, generally called "Real ID," would turn drivers licenses into de facto national ID documents. The Electronic Frontier Foundation warns against Real ID (PDF):

Even if the system works perfectly, however, interfacing flawlessly designed, uncrackable cards through a secure reader to a database system full only of well-verified, lawful information on citizens, accessible only to properly-authorized civil authorities, one factor can never be engineered away: even a perfectly-built system is corruptible by imperfect individuals. Today, we entrust considerable amounts of personal information to our state and federal governments. Unfortunately, public officials, acting in rash patriotic zeal or for less noble motives, have time and again violated the public's trust. The solemn confidentiality surrounding census data, for instance, was abrogated to round up and imprison Japanese-American citizens during the Second World War, and income tax data has been misused time and again by politicians and IRS investigators alike.

Despite government assurances to the contrary, Lord Acton's maxim, "power corrupts" has time and again proven true. Our best hope is to lead our government not into temptation, and to reject national ID systems before they get started.

No word yet on Governor Napolitano's willingness to sign the bill, although she's been pretty gung-ho about the idea of turning drivers licenses into identification cards -- an idea the legislature has resisted.

According to the Associated Press, states that have rejected Real ID to one extent or another include Idaho, New Hampshire, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Oklahoma and Maine.

If Napolitano resists her control-freak instincts and signs the bill, Arizona will be in good company.



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