The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

November 28, 2007

Real ID would be real nightmare for Americans

The Department of Homeland Security is forcing us to choose between two nightmares for Pennsylvanians.

Behind Door No. 1: We comply with the Real ID Act, a federal mandate that requires all of us to carry a national ID card that will contain our personal information, and which can be scanned by a multitude of government agencies and private businesses. The information on the card will be entered into a vast national database vulnerable to identity theft and security breaches. State taxpayers will have to pay for the massive program.

Behind Door No. 2: We can refuse to comply with this mandate, allowing Pennsylvania residents to hold onto their private information. But then the Department of Homeland Security may block us from boarding planes, entering government buildings, proving our eligibility to work or opening bank accounts.

These are the choices of the Real ID Act: No choices at all.

There is a Door No. 3 – reform the program or reject it – but first we have to pry open this door to walk through.

The American people never had a choice about Real ID.

Tacked onto a must-pass defense spending bill, the Real ID Act was passed in 2005 by legislators behind closed doors in a late-night session.

The Real ID Act will create the first genuine national ID card in American history. All of our personal information – Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth and other data – will be entered into a nationwide database.

This database would be accessed by thousands of municipal, state and federal employees. This includes employees of the nation’s motor vehicle departments as well as all levels of law enforcement officials, from the local police to the FBI.

Real ID would become such an integral part of our lives that any glitch in the system could spell disaster for Americans, affecting our ability to work, drive or board an airplane. Some even suggested requiring Real ID to vote.

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