HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett today signed legislation to prohibit the implementation of the federal Real ID Act in the commonwealth, joining 15 other states that have blocked the federal law by state statute. The signing of Senate Bill 354 ends a seven-year campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania in support of the bill.
"Real ID is a de facto national ID card and is a disaster for the privacy rights of all Pennsylvanians," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "We are grateful that Governor Corbett recognized the many problems with Real ID."
Passed in 2005 as part of a bill for funding American troops overseas and victims of the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, Real ID forces new mandates on the states in the distribution of drivers' licenses. The federal law creates a new nationwide database of license holders by mandating the departments of motor vehicles to connect to each other. It also includes costly mandates on the verification and storage of identifying documents used to apply for a license, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards.
PennDOT has estimated the cost of Real ID at more than $100 million to implement and approximately $40 million to maintain annually.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania noted that prohibiting implementation stops the commonwealth from participating in the nationwide database.
"If it is ever implemented, that database will be a honeypot for identity thieves," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "A security breach anywhere in the country will expose the personal information of license holders everywhere."
Hoover said that security breaches have occurred at multiple DMVs in recent years, including a break-in at a PennDOT office in Wilkes Barre in 2006.
SB 354, which is now Act 38 of 2012 and was introduced by Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), unanimously passed the Senate in October and then passed the House, 189-5, last month.
"Senator Folmer has been a tremendous advocate for this bill and passionately pursued it when some of us thought that the bill wouldn't pass," Hoover said. "We are grateful for his pursuit of this issue."
Pennsylvania is the largest of the 16 states to block the implementation of Real ID by law. The ACLU of Pennsylvania believes that the commonwealth's refusal to participate in the federal law could spell "the death knell" for Real ID, which is scheduled for implementation in January.
"Real ID is dead," Hoover said. "It can't function without state participation."