REAL ID, a Real Mess
by Rick Brinegar
President Obama inherited a real mess, Real ID. The author of the Real ID Act claimed it would help “disrupt terrorist operations and secure our borders.” Critics called Real ID an invasion of privacy and one stop shopping for identity thieves. 35 states have refused to participate and the bill has stirred intense opposition from privacy advocates and civil rights groups.
The Real ID Act called for placing more secure state driver’s licenses into the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. As Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano signed a bill to keep her state from participating in the Real ID program. Now, as Homeland Security Secretary, Napolitano has proposed a cheaper, less rigorous re-branding of Real ID called Pass ID.
DHS Promotes PASS ID
To persuade states and Congress to substitute the new Pass ID Act, the Department of Homeland Security is predicting long lines at airports and federal facilities after the Real ID deadline at the end of December 2009. No states have asked for an extension. Everyone would have to be subjected to secondary screening procedures because not one state would be Real ID compliant on time. The Pass ID Act would give the states new timelines to comply, canceling the old Real ID deadlines.
PASS ID, a National ID
Many of those who opposed the Real ID Act, after it was passed as an amendment without debate, oppose the Pass ID legislation for the same reasons. With a similar set of privacy threats, the intent of this new legislation, according to many opposition groups, is to ultimately produce a national ID system. Fusion centers, they point out, have already been established to break down barriers of sharing information controlled by government agencies.
Pass ID states that no federal agency could accept a driver’s license or state-issued ID card unless the issuing state is “materially compliant,” as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. You could be restricted from boarding an airplane, applying for Social Security benefits, student loans, opening a post office box, entering a federal building, etc. The 35 states that have refused to participate in the original Real ID saw it as an unfunded federal mandate that threatened civil liberties. Similarly, critics of Pass ID are also fearful of identify theft and Big Brother intrusion.
PASS ID Features
Under Pass ID, states will collect original “identity source documents” from applicants and save them in digital form. Federal databases created for government benefit programs, tax collection, and immigration purposes may be used for verification. A facial digital image capture could be used for searchable databases, and facial recognition used in closed circuit TV systems for picking out a face in a crowd.
Unlike the failed Real ID program, the Pass ID Act says that a person without a compliant card cannot be prevented from boarding a commercial flight. Then, six years after the date that the law is enacted, federal agencies can refuse to accept non-compliant IDs. The Pass ID compliant card will include a digital photo, signature, security features, “machine readable” technology, and the Department of Homeland Security seal. The “machine readable” area of the Pass ID will contain all the information on the face of the card, but not a Social Security Number.
The Pass ID Act gives the secretary of Homeland Security “unreviewable discretion.” Without oversight in the Pass ID legislation, “unreviewable discretion” could be used to provide access to others for state-issued drivers license and ID document information.
PASS ID and RFID
The Pass ID Act would allow, but not require, the use of Radio Frequency Identification technology. A chip in the card would transmit data to readers up to 30 feet away. RFID readers are cheap, available to the general public, and common in the workplace. Government agents could routinely check entire groups of people at the same time.
If biometrics, such as facial recognition, were coupled with RFID, “governments will have, for the first time in history, the means to identify, monitor, and track citizens anywhere in the world in real time,” says Mark Lerner, spokesman for the Constitutional Alliance.
The Department of Homeland Security’s own advisory committee concluded that RFID “increases risks to personal privacy and security, with no commensurate benefit for performance or national security.” It also recommended that “RFID be disfavored for identifying and tracking human beings.”
The Appearance of Security
Pass ID only gives the “appearance of security…,” according to Janice Kephart of the Center for Immigration Studies, “The Pass ID Act does not repeal REAL ID, but instead replaces its substance by deleting identity verification and document authentication and replacing them with what is, for the most part, the status quo in most states, or standards that are less rigorous than those now in place.”
Pass ID requires “appropriate action” to resolve date of birth, Social Security number, or lawful residence status. It does not require electronic verification. It does not immediately address vulnerabilities such as those exploited by the 911 hijackers, multiple licenses or IDs in different states, and use of a single document to prove residence. “The proposed bill,” says Kephart, “would likely lead to increased identity theft and license shopping.”
Many students of prophecy see national ID systems as the mechanism that will soon be used to implement the mark of the beast. According to the book of Revelation, no one will be able to buy or sell anything without this mark, which will identify allegiance to the one-world government and its ruler, the Antichrist.
American citizens need to know that both Real ID and Pass ID “either do or will require that Americans be enrolled into a single, global biometric identification system…,” says Mark Lerner. “These bills,” he says, “support the federal government intervening in the issuance of state driver’s licenses. I am absolutely beside myself in attempting to understand why we are so blind about the power we are giving to the federal government.”
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