The REAL ID Act / by kevin murray

In 2005, the REAL ID Act passed congress, a law that encompasses many things, but its primary purpose is to provide national standards for the issuance and the presentation of identity for state driver's licenses.  Although there has been an attempt to modify this act through another proposed law known as the PASS ID Act, this act has not been ratified by congress.


Many countries, perhaps a majority of countries have National ID acts.  The United States has two primary sources for ID:  its national social security card and our individual state ID.  The social security card does not have a picture attached to it, nor does it have an address attached to it, nor is it commonly used or is to practical to use for everyday purposes; whereas your state driver's license is commonly used as a form of identity in most everyday business transactions and it is most definitely the primary form of ID used in America.


The problem the federal government has with state issued driver's licenses is that formerly each state had its own peculiar way of issuing requirements needed for an individual to acquire a driver's license, the ID itself displayed on the driver's license varies by state by state, and each state has its ownalphanumeric system for tracking driver's licenses issued.  None of this is surprising given that this is a nation of fifty states, but for the monitoring of its citizens, this is a cumbersome burden for the federal government and therefore unacceptable to them.


The terrorist act of 9/11/2001 was the perfect storm for the government to step forward and insist that we needed national identity standards applicable to all fifty states in order to preclude and prevent future terrorists from being able to readily falsify driver's licenses or to receive them in the first place.  While there may be some truth in the above statement, there is probably more truth in stating, that 9/11 is simply used as the excuse for our national government to more closely monitor and track persons within our country.


This act, in and of itself, is basically a national ID act in which by standardizing state ID, your state-issued driver's license ID willnow be effectively nationalized, since all state databases will now share information across state lines.  As bad as the REAL ID Act is of itself, by compelling all citizens to be within a national database that correlates and combines their address, their social security number, their driver's license number, and their birth certificate, it gets significantly worse with the magnetic strip which is now mandated by the REAL ID act.


It is one thing for some flunky to take a look at your ID before allowing you to purchase alcohol, or to verify your ID before entering a club, or any other of the various mundane and myriad activities that a person does on any given day.  Most people can live with that, and don't have a real problem with providing their ID that proves that they are entitled to what they want to participate in.  Further, unless the person looking at your ID has a photographic memory or a secret camera they aren't going to be able to remember everything about you, so your identify remains semi-private.  However, with the magnetic strip on your ID and the swiping of that magnetic strip on a reader you have just given up your entire ID on your driver's license which has been recorded into a database that has been time-stamped and duly noted.


Perhaps in ten years, maybe less, it will be common to swipe your driver's license in order to enter a restaurant, a bar, a library, an office, and just about any public area.  If you like being watched, if you like being tracked, if you like being monitored like a criminal, you will embrace it. 


If you don't like it, you should rail or fight against it.