May 24, 2007
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NEWARK, N.J. — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today praised the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for its substantive comments to the Department of Homeland Security about privacy and other concerns on a proposed national identity card, known as Real ID.

In early March, the Department of Homeland Security released draft regulations for the Real ID Act, which is federal legislation that aims to create a national ID card. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission provided 63 pages of comments, raising concerns about security, cost, privacy and other implications of Real ID to New Jersey residents.

"With these comments, the Motor Vehicle Commission has demonstrated that it is a strong advocate for the rights and interests of New Jerseyans," said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Deborah Jacobs. "The MVC's analysis shows that Real ID would be a real nightmare of more red tape, longer lines, more identity theft and higher fees for New Jersey."

The New Jersey MVC's comments reflect a growing rebellion among the states against Real ID. Twelve states have passed legislation or resolutions opposing Real ID and several states have passed statutory bans on participating in Real ID as it is currently constituted.

In light of the MVC's substantive concerns, the ACLU-NJ calls on Governor Corzine to join this national movement and take action to reject Real ID. "Our own MVC has identified countless problems with Real ID, demonstrating that if implemented, Real ID will waste New Jerseyans' money, jeopardize our privacy and replace our driver's license system with a new scheme that will cost billions and fail to provide real security," said Jacobs. "It is time for us to say 'no' to Real ID."

The Real ID Act creates a national ID card system that federalizes and standardizes state driver's licenses. After being rejected as a stand-alone bill, it was forced through Congress in 2005 as part of a must-pass Iraq War appropriations measure. It requires every person in the country to have a Real ID-compliant identification document in order to fly on commercial airlines or enter government buildings. The Department of Homeland Security has said that some day Real ID will be required for other purposes, like getting a passport. Interested parties had until May 8 to submit comments on the regulations.

New Jersey's MVC clearly identifies the problems that the proposed Real ID regulations present for the state, which through its 6-point ID system already has one of the most secure licenses in the country. The MVC's comments state that "[w]hile substantial changes were made to update the State's previously archaic system, the present process, though extremely secure, will fall short of meeting the requirements … Therefore to become compliant, New Jersey would need to utilize significant resources that the State can ill-afford at this time."

DHS estimates that Real ID will cost $23 billion to implement nationally over the next 10 years. The New Jersey MVC states that the cost DHS suggested for the state to implement Real ID — $210 million over 10 years — is underestimated by at least 36 percent. The comments also note the failure of the federal government to provide grants and other funding sources for Real ID implementation.

The MVC said that the Real ID system would alter the agency's core mission from driver safety to a business that emphasizes identification. In its comments on Real ID, the MVC questioned "whether sufficient thought has been given to the impact this change could have on driver safety nationwide."

Finally, in addressing privacy issues, the MVC notes it has "some concern about the increased risk of identity theft and the potential erosion of personal privacy. Whenever additional personal information is collected and systems are created to retrieve that personal information or databases are established to house such information, the threat of improper access and use of that information is heightened."

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