Arizona lawmakers give Real ID cold shoulder

The Arizona legislature voted yesterday to prohibit the state from complying with the Real ID Act of 2005. Under the act, states are required to adopt federal standards for handling personal information for driver's licenses and share drivers' information with other states.

The legislation, if signed into law, might conflict with plans announced in August 2007 by Gov. Janet Napolitano and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to develop a hybrid Arizona state driver's license that would serve as a border-crossing identification card and incorporate Real ID standards once they become official.

Lawmakers in a number of states have criticized Real ID because of its high cost and possible risk to privacy posed by collecting information in databases and sharing it among states. The final vote in Arizona was 51 to 1 in favor of blocking Real ID.

Seventeen states so far have passed resolutions or statutes rejecting Real ID, and nine states have barred compliance.

"The state of Arizona has joined a nationwide movement against Real ID, and if the governor heeds the will of her constituents, Arizona would become the tenth state to pass a law prohibiting compliance," Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project, said in a statement.

In August 2007, Arizona became the third state, along with Vermont and Washington state, to volunteer for a Homeland Security Department program to develop an enhanced driver's license that allows for border crossing. The card was to comply with the department's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements and align with future driver's license requirements of the Real ID Act, DHS said in a news release.

"Arizona's new driver's license is poised to be one of the nation's first to comply with Real ID requirements," the news release said.

The 2005 Real ID Act was passed by Congress to set national standards for driver's licenses. Preliminary regulations were released by DHS in February 2006, and the final rule was published in January 2008.

Homeland Security officials said in January that costs for Real ID were reduced partly through stretching out the enrollment period. Enrollment must be completed for all individuals under 50 years of age by Dec. 1, 2014. For all others, enrollment may be extended to Dec. 1, 2017, the rule states.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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