On Sunday, Sept. 13, The Oklahoman ran this front page headline:
This was the opening salvo in the battle to repeal Oklahoma’s law passed in 2007 prohibiting the implementation of the federal Real ID Act. How do I know? I know because I have watched this scenario played out in state after state. Here is a typical and recent example from Louisiana;
“…Louisiana residents could need passports to fly domestically by 2016 — or face intense questioning from airport security — because their licenses or other state-issued ID don’t comply with the federal standards.”
This media scaremongering was followed by a bill to repeal Louisiana’s law prohibiting the implementation of Real ID which as it turns out, wasn’t being used anyway as the state’s Dept. of Public Safety admitted – Real ID implementation in the state was nearly complete.
‘…out of more than three dozen requirements, Louisiana only needs to do two things to move in line with the federal law’
(Source: NOLA.com, March 28, 2014, Louisiana lawmakers revisiting REAL ID compliance)
The effort to repeal the Louisiana law against REAL ID was ultimately unsuccessful thanks to the tireless efforts of aware citizens who persuaded a last minute veto by the Governor.
Missouri, which also passed a state law prohibiting participation in the REAL ID, discovered in 2013 that REAL ID implementation had continued in their state. Similarly, in 2012, I wrote an article detailing Oklahoma’s progress in achieving many of the REAL ID benchmarks despite state law that appears to forbid it. REAL ID has continued to progress in all states notwithstanding any law a state might have on the books against it. The way this is being accomplished is through a combination of legal art and crafty coordination between the federal government and non-governmental organizations. I mention this because it is a great example of the level of deviousness that has stained the Federal Real ID Act from day one.
The controversy that is happening in Oklahoma right now is further illustration of the deviousness that must be employed to get us all to accept the unacceptable REAL ID Act.
Oklahoma local media has dutifully amplifying the initial report by The Oklahoman with headlines like these;
And just as intended, these reports sent many Oklahomans into a tizzy worrying about whether or not they would be able to fly with their supposedly unsecured Oklahoma driver’s license. Since the (false) controversy centers on this issue, I will address it first.
So, can you fly without a REAL ID?
Whether or not you have a federally compliant REAL ID card, you will still be able to fly. The government cannot make having this specific ID a precondition to air travel and they know it. This question has been addressed in a recent congressional hearing, and by the DHS and also, the TSA.
From the Department of Homeland Security’s FAQ on REAL ID;
Can I use my driver’s license to board an aircraft?
Yes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will continue to accept driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards from all jurisdictions no earlier than 2016.
DHS will ensure the public has ample advanced notice before identification requirements for boarding aircraft change. That notice will include information on the process for individuals with a non-compliant driver’s license or identification card to be able to travel by aircraft. Read more
There are alternatives in place for those with insufficient identification documents now and there will be alternatives for those without a REAL ID compliant license after 2016. This is one way the government is putting their vast databases of personal information to use -you are already sufficiently ID’d before you ever arrive at the airport to board the plane. It only takes a minimal secondary confirmation if you arrive without your ID before you a permitted to proceed to your flight. That will not change unless our government completely loses its mind in the next couple years in which case, flying may be the least of our worries.
Why the big show?
It’s a tactic. The only reason the DHS began enforcement of the of the REAL ID Act now is because they have finally gotten enough states to comply that they feel emboldened to do so. The fact is that the federal government cannot force the states to comply with the REAL ID Act but – that doesn’t mean they can’t frighten or pressure the people into demanding it. And that is what this is about.
The Real ID Act is (by law) is voluntary for the states
The federal government is trying to make Real ID, practically speaking, mandatory or at least appear to be, for the individual citizen. This will create pressure on (and provide political cover for) the state legislators so that they can, under the guise of caring for their constituents, cave and repeal their state law prohibiting REAL ID compliance.
This kind of political manipulation is depressingly effective as is apparent from the comments in reaction to media stories hyping REAL ID enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security.
Before we go pestering our elected officials to give us this federal identification card, we should know at least a little bit about it so we know what we are getting ourselves in to.
About the REAL ID Act of 2005 – just the basics
The REAL ID Act was passed with little to no debate in Congress in 2005 as a rider to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief.
What the REAL ID Act did was to establish federal guidelines that use international standards for state issued DL/ID cards.
Why international standards?
“ The main ideology for defining the design of the DL/ID is the minimum acceptable set of requirements to guarantee global interoperability”
Source: Personal Identification – AAMVA North American Standard – DL/ID Card Design, 2012
(So no, REAL ID isn’t a ‘national ID’ It’s a global one. Isn’t that neat?)
In addition, REAL ID compliant state driver’s licenses and ID cards must be
• Machine readable (magnetic strip, bar code, RFID)
• Contain biometric data (facial biometrics)
(The inclusion if these two technologies is what enables the license to be used for surveillance and tracking of individuals)
REAL ID requires that state databases of our personal information be linked and the data shared nationally and internationally.
That is the very basics of the REAL ID Act. I don’t normally recommend Wikipedia as a source but if you want a deeper dig on Real ID, you will find this entry to be meticulously sourced and factual.
The imposition of this insidious law achieved something remarkable in American history – it skipped over the historically reviled ‘national ID’ debate and took us straight to a global identification system, one based on using our bodies as our ID.
Biometric ID requires physical registration tied to our very bodies and enables a record to be made of our transactions, of our location, our habits and social networks and more.
As the Defense Intelligence Agency explains:
“biometrics …serves as the linchpin for full exploitation of information”
According to FBI, biometric data, specifically facial biometrics, which is being collected by our state DMV’s, is useful for data mining and predictive analytics to identify and classify people, assign individuals with a ‘threat level,” and even identify their intent prior to any actions.
Biometrics as ID enables all other forms surveillance to become personal, specific and inescapable. I believe this technology is and will be abused and it is my firm opinion that biometric ID should never be used for ordinary identification purposes on law abiding citizens.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great primer on the risks of using biometrics as ID that you should read.
The loyal opposition to REAL ID runs PURPLE
After the REAL ID Act became law it produced nothing less than epic battles in the states. At least 25 states passed a law or resolution prohibiting the implementation of Real ID in their states.
You will notice that the typical Red/Blue state divide is absent from Real ID opposition. There is a reason for that – The REAL ID Act is simply a terrible law! There is something in this law for just about everyone to hate but the predominate reasons stated for such vehement opposition are the cost, privacy/security risks to individuals, and blatant federal overreach.
Oklahoma is one of at least 16 states that passed a law prohibiting the implementation of the federal REAL ID Act.
The bill prohibiting participation in the REAL ID Act (SB 464) was co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans. It passed unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Henry in 2007.
These states are the actual last holdouts against REAL ID
Let’s hope these states continue to hold out because if they cave, there will be nothing stopping the floodgates of our personal and biometric data from flowing out of our state databases and out to the world at large just as intended. Once that happens, there is no protecting or retrieving of this sensitive information and this is also when full use of our REAL international biometric ID will take place. That is when it is going to get really ugly.
There is much more to say about REAL ID and biometrics as ID specifically (this is a very personal battle for me) but I am going to stop here for now.
I hope the people of Oklahoma will carefully consider their stance on REAL ID and see that is truly a dangerous ID. Please take the time to communicate with your elected Representatives on this now, it is important for them to know where you stand – Oklahomans really DON’T need REAL ID!