Controversy around RealID is nothing new. When Congress passed an act in 2005 that required a set of machine-readable information on government-issued identity cards, plenty of opposition pointed out the expense, the unnecessary amounts of data and the bureaucratic nightmare of issuing all-new cards to citizens. So far not a single state has actually made the May 2008 deadline to implement the IDs.
But an article from Jim Harper at the CATO Institute points out that L-1, a prominent maker of driver’s licenses and biometric security products, plans to buy the identity card business of DigiMarc, the No. 1 maker of state driver’s licenses. The combined entity will have a lock on the identification market and a reason to push for RealID, argues Harper.
As anyone whose income tax data or social security numbers have been posted to the web can attest, the government isn’t exactly a lockbox for personal information. Having so much data on such an accessible state document is an invitation to privacy violations that would have far more repercussions than your girlfiend realizing you bought her a diamond ring on Overstock.com. Just something to to think about this election year.