Real Id

Article excerpt

REAL ID. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing to examine the privacy and civil liberties concerns surrounding the driver's license requirements mandated under the REAL ID Act. Witnesses also evaluated two new bills that would repeal REAL ID and require a new set of standards for drivers' licenses.

Although two witnesses expressed their support for REAL ID, the majority of the witnesses objected to it. Their criticisms centered broadly around the cost of implementing the law and its lack of security protections for data.

With an implementation cost of $17 billion, REAL ID would do more harm than good, according to Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute. Harper testified that the security benefits of REAL ID, based on "generous assumptions" in terms of terrorism prevention as well as prevention of ancillary crimes such as identity theft, could save $15 billion. According to Harper, this return on investment is too low and the funds should be spent shoring up already successful programs.

The real purpose of REAL ID is not financial savings, of course. It is security. But it fails there as well, according to Bruce Schneier, security expert and founder of BT Counterpane. Schneier pointed out that to obtain a driver's license under REAL ID, a person must present another form of identification, such as a birth certificate. …