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In 2005 the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress as a rider in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief. This new law imposed new security, authentication, and issuance procedures for all state issued IDs such as driver’s licenses in order for an ID to be accepted for official purposes. Every state is required to comply with this act, permitting only extensions on the timelines for which the program must be fully implemented. American taxpayers and their states such as South Carolina and its governor, Mark Sanford, oppose this legislation for various purposes and particularly, for privacy and freedom. With this act, all of a person’s information is put into one central depository by the state in order to be accessed by not only the federal government but other states as well. In comparison, currently various government documents and information such as social security numbers, passports, state IDs, etc. are in different databases. This is beneficial for Americans because if by some chance one of those is hacked into, not all of their information is given directly to the offender. Under the REAL ID Act, however, one foul step and someone can have complete access to all of your information. For example, “North Carolinians Against REAL ID” reported that the Department of Homeland Security has had its databases compromised almost 850 times within the past 2 years alone.
The threat is not limited to hackers and other stereotypical wrongdoers. It should also include the government itself. With unlimited access to every American’s information, the government can ultimately know everything about you at all times. You no longer have a right to privacy. Rather, the government will have a right to your privacy. Once the government begins to have access to this information there truly is no way to stop it. Jim Harper from the Cato Institute stated well, “Massed personal information will be an irresistible attraction to the Department of Homeland Security and many other governmental entities, who will dip into data about us for an endless variety of purposes.”
While one likes to assume that the government would never use this power for anything but good, we must remember that the government is composed of human beings. Melanie Scarborough writes on examiner.com that, “Perhaps the most alarming aspect of Real ID is that it transfers to the government ultimate control over citizens’ movements. The ID card of a citizen not in good standing could have a hold put on it, just like a credit card can. If your ID card is declined, you will be unable to travel, access your money, get a job, enter buildings, or go about the basic routines of life until you have restored favor with your government.” The government constantly justifies its over-controlling behavior with reasons such as security and thus it is easy for anyone to see how quickly our rights to privacy will disappear.
In order to fight against these dangers, a few states and Americans have stood up to Congress and said, “No”. The example of South Carolina is particularly telling. South Carolina’s state legislature outlawed the state from adopting the REAL ID Act. While the state did improve the security of its driver’s licenses and other state IDs, many of which comply with the REAL ID’s requirements, it is still required to adopt the uniform federal ID. At this point, not only is the government infringing upon the people’s right to privacy, but it infringes upon a state’s right to govern itself. We can all agree that we like to be safe. We do not agree, however, on the government’s desire to infringe upon our rights in exchange for security that was never even discussed by the people through their representatives. If Congress had discussed this issue, it would have discovered that the American people will assert their rights against wrongdoing.