The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires states to issue identification cards and driver licenses which conform to federal standards yet to be issued, and all of the information to be stored in a central database yet to be established. A privacy activist has said that he obtained internal Homeland Security documents which describe how that database will be established and run.
Bill Scannell of The Identity Project, who also runs the Web site UnRealID.com, said last week that he obtained copies of draft Homeland Security regulations which show several options for who might run the database, as well as the option that DHS ultimately chose.
Regular readers of Homeland Stupidity found out the answer two months ago, so I will disagree with Scannell’s claim of being the first to discover this.
According to a still-secret several hundred-page dossier sent last week by DHS to the Office of Management and Budget, DHS considered three ways to implement the REAL ID Act:
- Plan A: Order the individual states to find a way of communicating data to one another. This idea was given short shrift by DHS, who dismissed it out of hand.
- Plan B: Have DHS build a centralized database for the states to query before issuing REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses. This idea was also rejected.
- Plan C: Have a private data aggregator act as the central database. This is the plan advocated by DHS. The plan calls for the outsourcing of all drivers license and ID card checks to a private corporation, who would then charge the states for each check performed. DHS head Michael Chertoff personally ordered this option to be chosen, according to a senior administration source.
What does this all mean? Quite simply, this is the outsourcing of our Constitutional rights. It means that all privacy protections on our drivers licence data will be removed once the DMV sends your data to the private corporation.
If it’s possible to create a scheme worse than a national ID card, this is it: a privatized National ID card. The citizens of every state will not only be at the mercy of a company like ChoicePoint or Acxiom to ‘approve’ their identity, but will have no privacy protections whatsoever on that data. Your sensitive drivers license data can be bought and sold along with everything else these companies sell, such as your credit information. The federal government can then gain access to this information without having to comply with any laws, such as the Privacy Act. — UnRealID.com
Two months ago I reported to you that the most likely company to handle the contract would be the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. AAMVA recently hired Brian Zimmer, a former House Judiciary Committee staffer who has been a major proponent of REAL ID and who would have worked closely with Rep. James Sensenbrenner, (R-Wis.) the person responsible for the act. In his new position at AAMVA, Zimmer is responsible for pursuing federal contracts for “identity management” and managing the company’s identity management projects.
Civil libertarians have cited concerns that REAL ID effectively creates a national ID system. Scannell did not say if Homeland Security recommended a particular vendor, but he claimed that Secretary Michael Chertoff personally ordered a plan to hire a private data aggregator for license and ID card checks.
“Homeland Security is granting the right to control our identity to private industry,” Scannell wrote on the Web site UnRealID.com. “It will be Identity-Mart Inc.”
A Homeland Security spokesman declined to comment on the issue. — National Journal’s Technology Daily
Don’t be too surprised in a few months when it’s announced that AAMVA got the contract after a lengthy wait, required for the sake of appearances and bureaucracy. After all, they’re already maintaining a similar, but much smaller, database for the states, which holds data on every commercial driver license holder in the country. This is the blueprint on which the national identity database will be built.