Montanans Should Embrace Real ID

In a time when identity theft and fraud is increasingly common, Montanans should welcome the REAL ID Act standard

By Andrew Meehan

The article “Montana, Other States Oppose Federal ID Rules as Deadlines Loom” (Sept. 17 Beacon) is inaccurate.

Justin Franz incorrectly states that the REAL ID Act requires “states maintain databases with information the federal government can access.” No such provision exists in the REAL ID Act or in its final rule. REAL ID does not give the federal government the authority to access motor vehicle databases.

It also states that Kentucky, New Jersey and New Mexico are among the states that are, “resist[ing] the REAL ID regulations.” Since the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would be enforcing the REAL ID Act, five additional jurisdictions have received extensions, including Kentucky, New Jersey and New Mexico. Currently, 46 jurisdictions (states and territories) have met or plan to meet the REAL ID standards.

As noted by the article, Attorney General Tim Fox and Gov. Steve Bullock have both stated that Montana will continue to “resist the [the REAL ID Act] regulations,” while at the same time touting the security of Montana’s driver’s license. But there’s a discrepancy there. The improvements Fox and Bullock are talking about are in fact REAL ID requirements. In January, Bullock sent a letter to DHS that detailed all the things Montana has done to increase the security of the driver’s licenses, “independent of federal mandate.” All of the improvements are REAL ID Act requirements. What a coincidence.

In a time when identity theft and fraud is increasingly common, Montanans should welcome the REAL ID Act standard. It increases the safeguards against a data breach, leak or hack by requiring the Montana Division of Motor Vehicles to better protect and secure the personal data of Montana driver’s license and identification card holders. Montanans, including Bullock and Fox, should encourage adherence to the REAL ID standard because it increases privacy protections.

Andrew Meehan, policy director
Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License

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