Category Archives: Privacy

REAL Nightmare

Source: Ellen Perlman, Governing, Vol. 20 no. 9, June 2007

States are on the hook to turn driver’s licenses into secure ID cards. The size of the job is scaring them.

For the past five years, clerks at the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles have been enforcing new rules for getting a driver’s license. It hasn’t been pleasant. As the new system has been put in place — a new requirement here, followed by another one there — DMV employees have been dressed down, yelled at, spat on and cursed by those in line.

This is not the usual situation at today’s DMVs, because states have gone to great efforts in the past decade to make license renewal a friendlier, more convenient experience — letting drivers renew online or by mail; putting small DMV offices in local shopping malls. But there’s a reason why Colorado clerks are under fire: The new rules, which have to do with creating a more secure license, have brought back long lines and frustrating misunderstandings about just exactly what documents drivers need to bring in and how long it will take the DMV to verify those papers. That’s why Colorado, which established its own rules for securing licenses, may be the best place to look to see what it’s going to be like when the REAL ID Act, the 2005 federal law that calls for a higher level of security for driver’s licenses, starts going into effect next year.

The Governor’s Database

Source: Jake Bernstein, The Texas Observer, Vol. 99 no. 8, April 20, 2007

Texas is amassing an unprecedented amount of information on its citizens

Piece by piece, Gov. Rick Perry’s homeland security office is gathering massive amounts of information about Texas residents and merging it to create the most exhaustive centralized database in state history. Warehoused far from Texas on servers housed at a private company in Louisville, Kentucky, the Texas Data Exchange—TDEx to those in the loop—is designed to be an all-encompassing intelligence database. It is supposed to help catch criminals, ferret out terrorist cells, and allow disparate law enforcement agencies to share information. More than $3.6 million has been spent on the project so far, and it already has tens of millions of records. At least 7,000 users are presently allowed access to this information, and tens of thousands more are anticipated.

What is most striking, and disturbing, about the database is that it is not being run by the state’s highest law enforcement agency—the Texas Department of Public Safety. Instead, control of TDEx, and the power to decide who can use it, resides in the governor’s office.

Plunging into the Gene Pool

Source: Alissa Johnson, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
(subscription required)

Even though the legal landscape has changed, concerns about the abuse of genetic testing persist.

Is your genetic information safe? Sixteen years have passed since Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed the first state law to prevent genetic discrimination in March 1991. A tidal wave of genetics legislation followed, propelled by the anticipated completion of the Human Genome Project to sequence and map the genes that make up a human being. Public fears continue, however, over the possible abuse of genetic testing technology.

The Real ID Act: National Impact Analysis

Source: National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, September 2006

On May 11, 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act (Real ID) as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief Act (P.L. 109-13), creating national standards for the issuance of state driver’s licenses (DLs) and identification cards (IDs). The act establishes certain standards, procedures and requirements that must be met by May 11, 2008 if state-issued DL/Ids are to be accepted as valid identification by the federal government. These standards are likely to alter long-standing state laws, regulations and practices governing the qualifications for and the production and issuance of DL/IDs in every state. They also will require substantial investments by states and the federal government to meet the objectives of the act.