Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Should We Be Worried About the Real ID Act?

Until I heard that the Real ID Act could include an RFID chip, I hadn’t given much thought to this law, enacted May 10, 2005 and due to go into effect in May of 2008. I knew that an RFID chip emits a radio frequency signal so that we can be tracked wherever we go if we have our driver’s license or I.D. card with us.

I decided to learn more and went to because this website was sent to me by a sane, not paranoiac, friend. I found the text of the law and read it for myself.

Hmmm, I didn’t see a reference to RFID chips in the “Improved Security For Drivers’ Licenses and Personal Identification Cards” (aka the Real ID Act), so I sent an e-mail to the “Contact Us” link at, and within an hour, an attorney for the Technology & Liberty Project of the ACLU replied, ‘The Real ID Act calls for a ‘common machine readable element’ to be part of every license. That technology could be an RFID chip. However, until DHS [Department of Homeland Security] issues regulations (probably this Spring or Summer) it is unknown whether they will require an RFID or something else (like a bar code).”

Several states are considering Anti-Real ID legislation. Yesterday, the Maine legislature rejected the Real ID Act. Unfortunately, my state, California, doesn’t appear to be doing anything, but I always feel better if I swing into action, so I can contact my legislative representatives. Besides, I mostly get around on foot and a bike!


Alexandra Appel said...

This is a good enough reason to give up driving.

Anonymous said...

Problem, as you know, is that RFID chips can currently be read by as far away at ten feet with available equipment. In a few years, it's likely that they will be able to be read from a greater range. Not good, you know. Same issue with the new passports - don't they already have the chips?


JimGuest said...

This is Rep. Jim Guest, the founder of L.A.R.I. Legislators Against Real ID and the Committee for America's Freedom. I would like to have you on my Radio Show.