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Stop worrying -- You can still have Elvis on your driver's license

By Frank Salvato
web posted May 16, 2005

The REAL ID Act has many Americans, especially civil libertarians, up in arms. They are concerned "Big Brother" has encroached upon the fine line between security and intrusion. While we are all well advised to guard against an ever-intrusive government, it serves no good purpose to denigrate a piece of legislation simply because special interest groups are attempting to persuade us into believing there is something sinister afoot.

"We the People" have a responsibility to ascertain the facts about any given issue before we storm the village square, flaming torches in hand. This concept is called civic responsibility and our Founding Fathers envisioned as a cornerstone of their grand design, a nation of people who would embrace this notion.

In this age of instantly accessible information there really is no excuse not to know the facts of the important issues of the day. Granted, we cannot trust the mainstream media to provide information that isn't slanted to the bent of an agenda, but there are many other outlets we can access that will offer us straight-forward accounts of the pressing issues of the day. In fact, every piece of legislation, proposed and established, is accessible to everyone on the Internet via the Library of Congress website.

When read, the actual verbiage of the REAL ID Act -- devoid of the inserted rhetoric of reactionaries -- doesn't set-up any super-secret clandestine conspiratorial network. There aren't any government minions sitting deep inside any hollowed out mountain keeping tabs on what kind of milk we buy. What it does is lay out some minimal requirements for the uniformity of information that is already required by our respective Secretaries of State. It reiterates that every state should cooperate with regard to the reciprocal access of information when requested. And it sets a standard as to what documentation is required in order to receive a driver's license that will be recognized by the federal government as a form of identification.

Section 202(b) of HR1268 Title II states the minimum document requirements as:

- The person's full legal name.
- The person's date of birth.
- The person's gender.
- The person's driver's license or identification card number.
- A digital photograph of the person.
- The person's address of principle residence.
- The person's signature.
- Security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication.
- A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.

Further, Section 202(d) of HR 1268 Title II requires that individual Secretaries of State:

- Capture digital images of identity source documents for electronic storage.
- Retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of 7 years, images for 10.
- Subject each person applying to mandatory facial image capture.
- Establish an effective procedure to confirm or verify a renewing applicant's information.
- Confirm any social security account number presented
- Refuse to issue a driver's license to a person holding one by another state.
- Ensure the security of offices where drivers' licenses and ID cards are produced.
- Employ appropriate security clearance requirements for employees.
- Establish fraudulent document recognition training programs for employees.
- Limit the period of validity of all non-temporary driver's licenses and ID cards to 8 years.
- Afford other states access to information contained in the motor vehicle database.
- Maintain a state motor vehicle database that contains, at a minimum: (a) all data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards issued by the state; and (b) motor vehicle drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.

Not included anywhere in this piece of legislation are provisions that enable the government to acquire information we don't already provide freely to our respective Secretaries of State. So, I ask you, where is the heavy hand of "Big Brother" in this piece of legislation? After actually reading it "Big Brother's" fingerprint is impossible to find.

Sadly, we've become complacent and generally accept the summaries and reports of the mainstream media talking heads and special interest organizations. Few of us take the initiative to seek out the facts. This results in easy prey for those relying upon ignorance for their own gain.

The only people affected by the REAL ID Act are those who are here illegally. The last time I checked entering or living in the United States outside of immigration law was still illegal. Of course, that's hard to remember after listening to the spokespeople from organizations who insist that illegal aliens have the same rights as citizens. I suspect that these organizations, with a little help from the mainstream media, are the ones spreading the "Big Brother" fear among those who are vulnerable

If "We the People" would simply educate ourselves on the issues, if we sought out the actualities on the important issues of the day, hysteria the likes of what we are hearing over the REAL ID Act wouldn't exist. If "We the People" would embrace the concept of civic responsibility in the fashion our Founding Fathers envisioned we could eliminate the ability of special interest groups to manipulate public opinion and our laws to suit their short sighted, tunnel-vision utopian aspirations.

In the end, to borrow a phrase from Franklin Roosevelt -- a man who liked the idea of personal retirement accounts, by the way -- "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Frank Salvato is a political media consultant and managing editor for TheRant.us. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

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