Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Coming Soon: National ID Cards?

Filed under
Security

Driver's licenses will become national ID cards--and Americans will be at greater risk of identity theft--under a new federal law that passed without significant congressional debate, critics charge.

The Real ID Act will require that states verify every license applicant's identity and residency status, and that they store addresses, names, and driving records in a database that every other state can access. It also mandates anticounterfeiting features for the licenses and a "common machine readable technology." In three years, licenses that don't meet the standards won't be accepted as identification for boarding an airplane, opening a bank account, or satisfying any other federally regulated use.

The law's sponsor, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) said that the law "seeks to prevent another 9/11-type terrorist attack by disrupting terrorist travel." Opponents contend that the act is primarily meant to prevent people who illegally immigrate to the United States from getting licenses.

When he introduced the bill at a press conference earlier this year, Sensenbrenner referred to a part of the report from the September 11 Commission that read, "Members of al-Qaida clearly valued freedom of movement as critical to their ability to plan and carry out the attacks prior to September 11th.

He said that his proposed legislation would curtail such movement and would tighten the rules for political asylum. In response to questions from reporters, he also suggested that the law was intended to "get a handle on illegal aliens in the United States."

he controversy surrounding the new law relates to the way it was passed as much as to what it does. Because it passed as an amendment to an emergency spending bill providing funding for American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Real ID Act did not come up for a vote on its own--or for full debate--in Congress.

"This really is a national identification card for the United States of America for the first time in our history," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) in the Senate the day before the spending bill passed. "We have never done this before, and we should not be doing it without a full debate."

Alexander and 11 other senators, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) last month asking him to block the amendment.

Though Alexander strongly opposed passing the Real ID Act without debate, he said he was "reluctantly" in favor of a national ID in the wake of September 11. Other observers remain deeply concerned by the prospect.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

The Changing Cost of Open Source

At one time higher ed wanted community-built software because of the $0 price tag; now many universities are paying somebody else to keep open source projects moving forward. Read more

Allwinner Continues Jerking Around The Open-Source Community

While Allwinner has been caught violating the (L)GPL and resulted in obfuscating their code and playing around with their advertised licenses, now this ARM vendor is taking things a step further. Read more Also: Allwinner Plays Around With Licenses On Its Media Codec

OS X 10.10 vs. Ubuntu 15.04 vs. Fedora 21 Tests: Linux Sweeps The Board

With having a new Apple Mac Mini in our testing labs this week, I ran some basic benchmarks comparing Mac OS X 10.10.2 to Ubuntu 15.04 to Fedora 21 in a few different configurations. Read more

Why Android's Winning The Battle Right Now

Without a doubt, the key technological revolution of our time has been the rise of mobile computing. With iOS and Android leading the charge, the way people communicate has been transformed. Of course the most significant competition in the space is the one between the two dominant mobile platforms: Google and Apple. Together, they make up the lion’s share of the mobile market. The fierce competition between the two has been the driving force behind the incredible pace of development and innovation the market has seen. Read more