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"Real ID" Seen as ID Theft Risk

February 13, 2007

"Real ID" has some real problems -- that's the message Idaho is getting ready to send to Congress. A legislative meeting scheduled today will cover both what's right and wrong about "Real ID," the federal plan to turn state drivers' licenses into national identity cards.

Hannah Saona with the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho says there is a long list of concerns, including cost, longer lines to obtain licenses at the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles, and individuals' potential loss of privacy. For most people, Saona says the risk of identity theft seems to be the biggest concern.

"Now, all the information that the D.M.V. has about each of us stays within the state office. It would now be opened up to thousands more people."

The change to a national system is likely to be expensive, with the costs probably passed on to consumers. Saona says some estimates put the cost of a national driver's license/I.D. card at around $100.

"The Department of Transportation has estimated it's going to cost about $39 million just to implement for the first year. After that, every year will be more than $9 million.

However, supporters say the new system would help in immigration enforcement, since the state offices that issue drivers' licenses would have to verify immigration status -- something Saona says Idaho already does.

Today's meeting to discuss what "Real ID" means for Idaho is scheduled for 2:30 PM in the Gold Room at the Idaho State Capitol building. A public hearing on the topic is planned for Wednesday at 1:30 PM in the House Transportation and Defense Committee, also at the Statehouse.

Deborah Smith/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - ID