Make needed changes in standards for IDs
The Department of Homeland Security has said it will go forward on plans for federal standards for driver's licenses.
DESPITE growing opposition, the Homeland Security Department is charging ahead with plans to impose national standards for driver's licenses as a security measure. The administration should make concessions about privacy concerns and the burden of state and county costs before implementing the Real ID, which some call a national identification card.
The department appears to be using intimidation to force states to comply. Residents will be "displeased with their leadership," according to a spokesman, if they suddenly cannot enter federal buildings or commercial airliners because of insufficient identification.
Hawaii's Legislature joined six other states last month in approving a resolution opposing the new licenses. Mayor Mufi Hannemann testified before a Senate committee that the mandate would cost the city $7.7 million to set up the system and up to $18 million in ongoing expenses during the first five years of operation.
The Real ID proposal was included in a military spending bill in 2005 without having been subjected to hearings. Bills to repeal the law have been introduced in both houses of Congress. Sens. Daniel Akaka and John Sununu, R-N.H., are sponsors of a measure that would significantly reduce the amount of personal information included in the licenses' barcodes.
The 9/11 Commission recommended stronger security standards for licenses, noting that the 19 hijackers carried 30 state-issued IDs. However, Hawaii and many other states now use high-tech features to make licenses more secure by making them harder to counterfeit.
The Bush administration and the Democratic Congress need to find a middle ground that achieves the desired level of security while protecting people's privacy.
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