Sunday, January 28, 2007

Maine says "no" to the REAL ID

The vast majority of what I write is depressing. But every so often, a kernel of liberty shined through which gives people like me some hope. This story is one example. The State of Maine rejected a federally mandated REAL ID Act. The REAL ID will take effect next year. A joint resolution rejecting REAL ID earned passage through the Maine House and Senate last week by an overall vote of 171 to 4. It asks the US Congress to repeal the law.

According to CNET

The vote represents a setback for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Republicans in Washington, D.C., which have argued that nationalized ID cards for all Americans would help in the fight against terrorists.

"I have faith that the Democrats in Congress will hear this from many states and will find a way to repeal or amend this in the coming months," House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview after the vote. "It's not only a huge federal mandate, but it's a huge mandate from the federal government asking us to do something we don't have any interest in doing."

But she repeats herself.... Anyway, amending--no; repealing--yes. There are already similar bills pending in Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, Washington; 8 other states total. Montana, in particular, is the strongest. The legislature held a meeting on a measure that says, "The state of Montana will not participate in the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005." The state instructs its motor vehicle department "not to implement the provisions."

The federal government has shown itself completely incompetent to manage and properly use the powers and tools it already has. Amending itself into another variety is a disaster. Perhaps if Congress spent more time having the federal government do less, it would stand a better chance of doing a few things reasonably well. Besides, the bill will cost Maine $185 million to implement, $185 million to invade privacy, and not doing a thing positive. Anyway, the federal officials slid this bill into a spending bill, because by itself, the bill had no chance of passing. And because the bill links driver's licenses to a national database, it could provide a windfall of information for identity thieves.

Maine already has refused to participate in the REAL ID. Soon, many more states will follow. It is just a matter of time before the bill is finished. According to Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Product, "This is the beginning of the end of REAL ID."


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