REAL ID doesn't seem like a good ID
A KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE FORUM | July 5, 2005
By MARY SANCHEZ
The government agent quickens his step, eyeing his subject with suspicion.
"Your papers, please," he asks, extending a hand to accept a government-issued identification card.
Surreal? A scene from a movie?
Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
The United States continues to edge closer toward the idea of a national identification card, most recently with passage of the REAL ID Act, which contains provisions mandating national regulations for driver's licenses.
Some scenarios - government officials being able to note your every move by scanning cards from a distance - sound pretty much like conspiracy theory. But the technology exists, so such changes should not be undertaken lightly.
The initial problem is that driver's licenses have gone far beyond their intended use in society. Driver's licenses are used to board planes, open bank accounts, rent cars, and to prove identity in a wide variety of places and situations. So tinkering too much with driver's licenses is the fastest route toward establishing a national identification card.
A not completely unfathomable fear is what will be done with all of the information gathered, Big Brother's national database.
As with many recent calls for government reform, this one originated with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Sept. 11 hijackers did use driver's licenses to move about the country.
They did not however, have 63 driver's licenses among them. Immigrant advocates have thankfully nixed that myth. The hijackers had 13 licenses among them, many legally obtained. But the hijackers didn't need driver's licenses to board planes; they had foreign passports.
The hijackers should have been caught long before they were handed driver's licenses. Attempting to track people after they have been allowed into the country quickly becomes problematic.
Which brings this back around to the idea of making driver's licenses more secure.
Americans do not need changes in driver's licenses that will ultimately trounce privacy. Especially if the efforts do not make the country one bit safer from terrorism.