Media Advisory: Experts Available to Comment on Impending Release of Final Regulations for REAL ID Act; Backgrounder on REAL ID

Date : 01/10/2008 @ 7:47PM
Source : Business Wire

Media Advisory: Experts Available to Comment on Impending Release of Final Regulations for REAL ID Act; Backgrounder on REAL ID

Two former government officials with expertise on the REAL ID Act are available to comment on the final regulations for REAL ID, expected imminently from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Former counsel to the 9/11 Commission Janice Kephart helped draft the Commission’s recommendation that eventually became REAL ID and has authored white papers on the Act. The Honorable C. Stewart Verdery, Jr., former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security Policy, managed credentialing policy, among other responsibilities at DHS, from 2003-2005. Both Kephart and Verdery held key staff positions on Capitol Hill before 9/11 and have testified numerous times on document security issues. Kephart is president of 9/11 Security Solutions in Alexandria, Va. Verdery is partner and founder at Monument Policy Group, LLC in Washington, D.C. Both are broadly acknowledged experts on REAL ID and other border security issues. Each also has experience with print, broadcast and electronic formats. Following is a backgrounder on the REAL ID Act. What REAL ID is The REAL ID Act is a 2005 federal law setting minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs for those states willing to comply. Under the Act, individuals must have a REAL ID-compliant license in order to continue using their driver’s license or state-issued ID for federal purposes such as boarding a commercial airplane or entering a federal facility. Why REAL ID was enacted REAL ID was enacted in direct response to a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that the federal government set standards for IDs such as driver’s licenses. The Commission found that the 9/11 hijackers obtained 17 driver’s licenses and 13 state IDs – at least seven by fraud. Of those obtained legally, many were duplicates, with some states issuing the same hijacker multiple licenses within a several-month period. Most of the Act’s provisions were adopted from a secure ID framework drafted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) in response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. REAL ID’s end goal is to protect consumers and national security simultaneously. In addition to aiding in the war on terrorism, secure IDs will help abate other national problems such as identity theft, drug dealing and abuse, deadbeat dads, underage drinking, and a vast support network for counterfeit ID documents. While no state must comply, the more that choose to meet REAL ID minimum standards, the less vulnerable we all are. Debunking Myths about REAL ID Myth: REAL ID invades privacy. Fact: REAL ID protects privacy by assuring people are who they say they are. The information contained on a REAL ID license will be the same as what is required by most states today. That information, such as digital photo, name, permanent address, age, height and weight, is widely available and does not implicate privacy concerns. REAL ID licenses are not required to contain RFID technology, biometric fingerprint information, or Social Security numbers. Myth: REAL ID will create a hackable, national database. Fact: There is no aggregation of personal data into “one huge, hackable database operated by the federal government,” as some claim. REAL ID calls for the states to operate secure databases that are searchable by other authorized parties (motor vehicle agencies, law enforcement). The Act also calls for crosschecking applicants’ information with federal and private databases to better authenticate credentials. Most of these databases are currently used by states to verify identity – with no privacy complaints. The databases are networked to the states by an AAMVA secure network, which will be further upgraded. Thus the federal government does not hold individual applicants’ information, and the notion that REAL ID would create a single federal database is completely erroneous. Myth: REAL ID creates a national ID and is a federal mandate. Fact: The driver’s license is the most common form of ID used in the U.S. today, accepted for everything from opening a bank account to boarding a plane to picking up movie tickets with a credit card. Securing an already widely used credential makes good sense. Each state will still issue many varieties of REAL ID compliant – and if they choose – non-compliant IDs. REAL ID does not affect states’ right to decide who is eligible for a driver license or ID; that decision remains with each state. There is thus nothing “national” about such issuance. If anything, REAL ID can be said to obviate the need for a national ID. Nor must states comply at all; the law remains voluntary. Americans support REAL ID Eighty percent of Americans believe in securing driver’s licenses to help fight terrorism, identity theft and other crimes, according to a recent poll sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). An even higher percentage is willing to provide more documentation and pay more to assure their identities are verified and their credentials secure. An earlier Zogby poll found that 70% of Americans support the provisions of REAL ID. Other supporters include the Fraternal Order of Police, the Drug Free America Foundation, the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, the Document Security Alliance, and ITAA. REAL ID is moving forward After collecting thousands of comments from states and other interested parties, DHS is ready to issue final regulations for the law and has gone to great lengths to respond to reasonable requests from states that will bear the burden of compliance. Many states have made significant progress toward implementing provisions of REAL ID already. The Congress recently provided additional funding to implement REAL ID.
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