REAL ID Act and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015: Looming Threats to Privacy and States’ Sovereignty

REAL ID Act and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015:…

There is a full court press on currently by the Obama administration to take control of citizens like never before from warrantless surveillance to finally trying to enforce the, up till now, languishing effort to force us into a federal ID program known as REAL ID.


To start with on the issue of warrantless surveillance please see the article ‘Amash, Massie Warn of Secret Surveillance’ in this issue of GSP where they reveal the deeply buried massive surveillance bill inside the $1.1 trillion spending package signed into law by Obama on Dec. 18th.

The New American magazine’s Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., explains in this article, “Not only does the spending bill contain billions of dollars in funding for unquestionably unconstitutional programs and policies, but it will allow the federal domestic spying apparatus to achieve previously prohibited levels of unwarranted searches, seizures, and sharing of personal data of Americans caught in the surveillance dragnet.”

Wolverton quotes Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) “These provisions were quietly slipped into the omnibus to avoid full scrutiny. We take an oath to defend the Constitution, and our Fourth Amendment privacy protections are as important as anything.”

“Perhaps the most constitutionally egregious aspect of all the Fourth Amendment violations contained in the new law (the measure was signed by President Obama on December 18) is the fact that all the authority to spy on Americans without a warrant was formerly rejected in one form or another by the same senators and congressmen who approved it last week.” – Unquote Joe Wolverton, J.D.


Following is a compilation from several reliable sources of facts, the real motives and our tax money behind this relentless quest for a ‘REAL ID’ that we are led to believe is so necessary to our national security. Yet at the end is a list of over a dozen perfectly acceptable already federally- approved ID’s such as a passport to board an airplane. The REAL ID really is a scheme to collect data, surveille and control us so we can become more reliant socialists. If you find this hard to believe, read on. And especially get your legislators to read on or wake up.

“The REAL ID Act will create ‘domestic travel restrictions that are the hallmark of authoritarian states, not free republics,” stated former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul in 2007.

In an op-ed published in the Washington Times last May, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) evoked the images of dictatorships of the past and their citizen registration policies: “Forcing Americans to carry around an identification card to affirmatively prove citizenship offends our basic concept of freedom. Wanting to avoid a “papers please” culture in our country is also why conservatives oppose federal universal gun background checks. We oppose such measures not because we don’t believe in common-sense rules or regulation — but because we are wary of giving the federal government this kind of centralized power over our daily lives. These draconian ideas would simply give government too much power.”

Consolidating immense power is the true purpose of the REAL ID Act. Forcing Americans to carry around an identification card to affirmatively prove citizenship offends our basic concept of freedom.

“I am against government lists of those who own or have transferred a firearm for the same reason I oppose any pathway to a national ID. I don’t think that government should have the awesome power of monitoring the legal activities of American citizens. That is not a proper role of the federal government — or any level of government, for that matter.” – Unquote Senator Rand Paul, (R-KY)


Idaho passed legislation prohibiting compliance in the state in 2008, but revised the law this year to allow ITD to ‘strengthen the security’ of Idaho driver’s licenses and state ID cards to ensure they can be accepted on commercial flights.

Reed Hollingshead, a spokesman for the Idaho Transportation Department stated recently, “We were granted an extension until October 10 of 2016.”

Jim Harper writing for the Cato Institute reports in his May 2014 article titled REAL ID, A State-by-State Update, “The REAL ID law will probably never be fully implemented, and for the good of the country it should not be.

“However, while Idaho has so far refused participation in REAL ID, it has joined DHS’s RIDE program as the third state to do so. RIDE is an add-on to the E-Verify system, which presents its own set of identification and privacy headaches. This is disappointing for a state that has been at the forefront of opposition to REAL ID. It may be that Idahoans do not yet recognize the national-ID based threats to privacy in E-Verify, “internal enforcement” of immigration law, and an expanding DHS bureaucracy.”

“But in many states today, motor vehicle bureaus are quietly moving forward with REAL ID compliance. In fact, some state bureaucrats are moving forward with REAL ID compliance even though their legislatures barred them from implementing the national ID law. Meanwhile, Congress continues to funnel money into the national ID project, even though unwanted programs like REAL ID are ripe for zeroing out of the federal budget.”


Harper continues: “The gambit REAL ID used to try and coerce state compliance was a clever one, although it has not proven to work. REAL ID barred federal agencies from accepting licenses and IDs from states that are not meeting the requirements of the law. This meant that agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would not accept the licenses and ID cards of travelers from resistant states. State leaders, fearing this form of retribution, were supposed to fall in line. The law set a deadline for compliance three years after its passage, in May of 2008.

“Nothing went well for REAL ID. It took until March of 2007—nearly two years—for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to even propose regulations in the Federal Register that would detail how states should comply with the law.

“Timely compliance being impossible, the DHS made December 31, 2009 a new deadline, which was available to any state that asked for an extension by October 1, 2007.

“State legislatures had begun to consider what REAL ID meant for them and their residents, however, and they were bridling at the prospect of spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars on developing a domestic surveillance system. In New Hampshire, a bill to bar state compliance produced one of the first shots in what became known as the “REAL ID Rebellion.”

“Speaking in favor of a New Hampshire ban on REAL ID compliance in April 2006, state representative Neal Kurk gave an electric speech in which he harkened to Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech, saying: “I don’t believe the people of New Hampshire elected us to help the federal government create a national identification card. We care more for our liberties than to meekly hand over to the federal government the potential to enumerate, track, identify, and eventually control.”

In January 2007, Maine became the first state in the union to reject REAL ID, passing a resolution refusing to implement the law and calling on Congress to repeal it. States across the country followed Maine’s lead.

In late January 2008, DHS published final regulations in the Federal Register, telling states what they would have to do if they were to implement REAL ID. Because the statutory deadline was just months away, DHS also produced a new, non-statutory deadline scheme: If states requested it by March 31, they would automatically get an extension to December 31, 2009. If by October, 2009, states showed that they were achieving the milestones laid out in a “material compliance checklist,” they could get extensions to May 11, 2011.

“But when the deadline for requesting an extension rolled around on October 1, 2009, several state leaders did not think they could ask for one in good conscience, as their states had no plans to participate in REAL ID. The DHS menaced these state leaders with the prospect that TSA agents might refuse their residents access to travel, but the state officials did not back down. FEDERAL OFFICIALS, NOT STATE OFFICIALS, WOULD BE BLAMED IF THE TSA STARTED DENYING AMERICANS THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL.

“Montana Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer and his attorney general sent DHS a letter stating that Montana would not implement REAL ID but describing the steps it had taken independently to improve its driver licensing. The DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff interpreted that as a request for extension and granted it. “I sent them a horse,” Schweitzer told a reporter, “and if they want to call it a zebra, that’s up to them.”

“South Carolina’s Republican governor, Mark Sanford, sent Chertoff a scathing critique of the REAL ID program on the last possible day to ask for an extension. Because he noted his state’s independent actions on licensing, Chertoff treated his letter as an extension request and granted it. Maine was the last state to receive an extension—days beyond the DHS’s deadline—after dickering between Governor John Baldacci, a Democrat, and DHS officials.

“The next deadline was the “material compliance” deadline of October 11, 2009. States would have to show significant progress toward implementing REAL ID or be denied a further extension to May, 2011. The threat, again, was that TSA might refuse the IDs of travelers from recalcitrant states starting on January 1, 2010.

“But states weren’t doing very much to comply, and it was increasingly clear that federal officials, not state officials, would be blamed if the TSA started denying Americans the right to travel. In late September, the DHS published a notice in the Federal Register that extended the deadline for requesting an extension by a month and a halfAnd at the end of December 2011, DHS published another announcement. ‘[A] large majority of States and territories—46 of 56—have informed DHS that they will not be able to meet the REAL ID material compliance deadline,’ it said. It added:

To avoid the unnecessary disruption of commercial air travel over the upcoming holiday season that would result if Federal agencies cannot accept State-issued identification cards from travelers beginning January 1, 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security . . . is staying the material compliance deadline of January 1, 2010, until further notice. Although the material compliance date has been stayed, the full compliance date of May 11, 2011, remains in effect.

“Fifteen months later, with that May 2011 deadline looming, the Department of Homeland Security again caved on its threat to disrupt air travel. In March 2011, it published a Federal Register notice changing the material compliance deadline to January 15, 2013.

“When January 2013 arrived, it was clear once again that states were not going to meet a REAL ID deadline. Indeed, in December 2012, DHS listed only 13 states as being compliant and meeting REAL ID standards. By December 2013, DHS’s latest listing of “materially compliant” jurisdictions had only grown to 21.

“At this point, the Federal Register notices stopped. The DHS put its best face on an essentially abandoned effort to force REAL ID compliance by releasing some documents on its website claiming the existence of a new enforcement schedule. Enforcement would be phased in starting in April 2014, with access to the Department of Homeland Security’s own headquarters in Washington, D.C., becoming unavailable to those trying to identify themselves with an ID from a noncompliant state.

“The DHS’s game defense of REAL ID said, “forty-one states and territories are either fully compliant with the REAL ID standards or have made sufficient progress to qualify for an extension.” But “fully compliant” actually means compliant with the pared-back “material compliance checklist” that DHS devised in 2008. The only achievement of the rest is getting yet another extension. Fifteen jurisdictions have not bothered to comply with DHS’s six-year old interim goals or even get an extension. The weak threat of TSA enforcement has been put off, according to these documents, to no sooner than 2016, and enforcement will be preceded by a “review and evaluation” period.

“REAL ID is dead, but it is walking dead. Yet in many states, officials are quietly moving forward with the federal government’s national ID project, which could spring to life again. Part of the reason they continue to work on the project is the flow of federal dollars still going to REAL ID.

“The amount of money states have spent so far is unknown, and it is probably nothing like $17 billion. But Congress continues to pour money into REAL ID in a way that does nothing to make REAL ID a success, yet keeps REAL ID alive by encouraging state officials and groups like the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) to soak up federal taxpayer dollars.

“REAL ID spending is hard to track, and it is getting harder. Beginning in 2012, REAL ID grants to states have been folded into the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), which makes outlays more obscure. But the DHS reports that it has spent over a quarter billion dollars on REAL ID since the 2008 fiscal year. REAL ID spending joins spending on other identification and tracking systems such as E-Verify and US-VISIT/the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) that together constitute around $300 to $500 million in spending per year.

“Today, although REAL ID is dead, some states and state bureaucrats are still working to produce a national ID, while others, such as Illinois, Idaho, Massachusetts, and Nevada, are solidly declining to implement the national ID system (although Idaho has moved to implement E-Verify, a different program with national ID implications). Utah is in the unusual position of having firmly refused REAL ID, but taking every step the Department of Homeland Security wants toward building the national ID. And then there are states that have reversed course: Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, and South Dakota stood against REAL ID when it first came out, but have turned around since then and moved toward compliance with the national ID law.

“The astounding cases are Louisiana and Missouri. In the Bayou State, officials from the motor vehicle bureaucracy are working to reverse state policy opposing the national ID law, treating the legislature and governor as impediments to their national ID plans. In Missouri, bureaucrats were caught red-handed implementing the terms of REAL ID despite Missouri law saying they could not. This prompted a state government attorney to exclaim, ‘To me, this issue is becoming less about Real ID and more about a government agency doing whatever the hell they wanted to do.’”

Barry Donegan with Truth In Media states in his Dec. 29, 2015 article ‘REAL ID to Go Live in 2016, Drivers’ Licenses from 11 States May Be Rejected By TSA,’ “So far, people in non-compliant states have been able to board aircraft and enter federal facilities with their drivers’ licenses due to an exemption.”

“Nine states and several US territories are due to have their exemption expire on January 10, 2016. The states facing a January expiration are Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands face the same deadline. Minnesota and American Samoa are already listed as non-compliant,” wrote Ars Technica’s Joe Mullin.

He added, “Those states facing the deadline shouldn’t be hopeful for a last-minute reprieve. Local and AP news reports say that DHS has already told officials in Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington that their requests for additional extensions have been denied.”

The New York Times notes that New Hampshire and Louisiana have also been granted exemptions which are set to expire in June of 2016.

[RELATED: Former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate argues against Real ID Act]

“The federal government has quietly gone around and clubbed states into submission. That’s a pretty heavy club,” said Minnesota State Senator and REAL ID opponent Warren Limmer.

The Department of Homeland Security will reportedly issue a warning to states 120 days in advance of enforcing the rule, which has yet to take place. DHS says that REAL ID enforcement “will begin with a 3-month period where agencies will provide notice to individuals attempting to use driver’s licenses or identification cards from noncompliant states but still allow access.”

If the federal government does not grant an extension to non-compliant states, individuals in those states will soon be required to use a federally-approved ID such as a passport to board an airplane.

So what counts as an acceptable form of ID under current guidelines?

Here’s the full list provided by the government:

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • S. passport
  • S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST)
  • S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential

The ID requirement applies to all travelers 18 years and older.

Oddly, though, you can still potentially fly without bringing any ID whatsoever. Once more, from DHS/TSA:

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification, because it is lost or at home, you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete a form to include your name and current address, and may ask additional questions to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint. You may be subject to additional screening.