PASS ID bill backed by Napolitano

New bill would repeal parts of the Real ID Act

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has endorsed the Providing for Additional Security in States' Identification Act (PASS ID) legislation in the Senate that would repeal parts of the controversial Real ID Act of 2005.

Under Real ID, states must collect personal information from drivers, store the information and electronically share it with other states. PASS ID, introduced June 15 by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), would eliminate many of Real ID’s information-sharing requirements.

Real ID critics, including many governors and state legislatures, contend that setting up the databases and networks to share drivers’ personal information among states is expensive and endanger privacy. Twenty-three state legislatures have passed nonbinding legislation or bills that oppose or reject Real ID.

Napolitano said at a news conference June 25 news that she intends to turn her attention immediately to PASS ID starting July 6 after she returns from a weeklong European trip. She said PASS ID would fulfill a key recommendation of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to tighten controls on driver’s licenses.

“It's a common sense bill that's been worked on with the nation's governors in a bipartisan fashion. It already has bipartisan support,” Napolitano said. “[This] is a bill that in my view will help us on — really — our never-ending quest to not only fill the mandates of the 9-11 Commission, but even improve upon them.”

Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, had a mixed record on Real ID. In June 2008, she signed legislation passed by the Arizona State Legislature to prohibit the state from complying with Real ID.

However, in August 2007, Napolitano was one of the first governors to reach an agreement with the Homeland Security Department to produce an enhanced driver’s license that would also serve as a substitute for a U.S. passport at the U.S.-Mexico border. These licenses, which are now being produced in Washington State, New York and Vermont, are designed to comply with Real ID.

The National Governors Association has praised PASS ID, saying it would reduce costs, offer greater flexibility to states, eliminate the need for costly new data systems and strengthen privacy protections. However, the American Civil Liberties Union said risks to privacy are still a major concern under PASS ID.

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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