GETTING CARDED - "Real ID" invasive, costly

A Bangor Daily News story today quotes Maine secretary of state Matt Dunlap saying the state may not be able to comply with a federal law slated to take effect two years from now. Called the "Real ID" act, the law imposes stricter rules for who can get government-issued identity cards (like driver's licenses) and what information must be stored on them in a format readable by digital scanners.

For example, the law bars illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses by requiring state and local officials to search federal immigration databases (remember how accurate those are?) before issuing a person a license. Dunlap tells the BDN that he will have to shell out millions to train officials here in Maine to look for forged documents, as just one possible problem in implementing the ID system.

The article doesn't talk about the real problems many people have with the "Real ID" - that it will, for the first time, require each person's public identity card (driver's license) with their Social Security number. And that digital information encoded on the card may include photographs, fingerprints, and other personal information previously stored in separate government databases, or not stored at all (as in the case of those of us who still have the non-digital Maine driver's licenses).

And what's the problem with that? Just imagine - one of the largest bureaucracies on the face of the planet having all of your vital information at its fingertips. For real, this time - not just "somewhere in this immense data farm" - but actually in a single, searchable, national database. What would they do with it? (And just imagine what would happen the first time someone broke into that computer system.)

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