The Missouri General Assembly has started the important task of bringing the state into compliance with the Real ID Act, the federal law designed to improve the nation’s security.
Lawmakers should finish the work this year, despite opponents’ fears of a conspiracy to invade your privacy.
Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005 as part of the security response to the 9/11 attacks. It requires states to meet minimum requirements for driver’s licenses and other documents.
“Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy,” the Department of Homeland Security says.
Some Missourians find this objectionable, apparently. In 2009, the state passed a law prohibiting compliance with Real ID.
That’s a problem, Homeland Security says. Residents won’t be able to use a Missouri driver’s license to get on an airplane starting in 2018. Today, the state’s residents must have an alternative ID to access federal facilities and nuclear power plants.
Civilians report problems while doing business at military bases in the state.
Opponents of Real ID compliance say these inconveniences are a small price to pay for standing up to Big Government. “I’m tired of federal overreach,” state Sen. Will Kraus told The Star.
This is a closer call than you might expect. We’re sympathetic to the concern that governments and private industries collect too much information about citizens.
Social Security numbers have become de facto national identification numbers for most Americans, a worrisome development.
It’s too easy to collect information about our buying habits, tax payments, travel histories, even the television shows we watch and websites we visit.
But opponents of Real ID have offered no specific evidence that these standards have seriously limited privacy rights in other states — including in Kansas, where the licenses are fully compliant.
The law requires the licenses to have, among other things, a digital photo, a signature, an identifying number, a date of birth and a legal name. The licenses also must be as tamper-proof as possible.
The law requires the state to check documents and records against the application for a license and to keep the information for a period of time.
Missouri is just one of five states considered non-compliant with those standards.
That suggests the complaints from Kraus and others are more about conservative politics than actual privacy dangers.
We like Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey’s approach. His measure would require Missouri to issue non-Real ID licenses to anyone worried about federal overreach; the rest of us could get compliant licenses and get on an airplane.
The dual system might cost an extra dollar or two but should be enough to satisfy everyone. The legislature should find a way to pass Sen. Silvey’s bill this session — before Missourians need to board their flights next January.