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REAL IDOklahoma woman battles against REAL ID

Published 2 August 2011

An Oklahoma woman has sparked a federal controversy after she refused to renew her driver’s license; in February Beach was pulled over by law enforcement officials in Norman, Oklahoma and ticketed for driving with an expired license and she is now fighting that ticket as part of a larger campaign against REAL ID

An Oklahoma woman has sparked a federal controversy after she refused to renew her driver’s license.

Kaye Beach has chosen not to renew her driver’s license in protest of new federal ID requirements under the REAL ID Act, which outlines more stringent standards for state ID cards.

In particular some civil liberties groups have become incensed over the law’s provision which require that all state IDs use high-resolution photos and fingerprints for potential biometric identification. Many groups say that these rules will create a national ID which Beach says are the “hallmark of a totalitarian society.” She also believes that sharing biometric information with the government is a violation of her constitutional rights, which is why she refused to update her license.

In February Beach was pulled over by law enforcement officials in Norman, Oklahoma and ticketed for driving with an expired license and she is now fighting that ticket as part of a larger campaign against REAL ID.

Beach said, “I’ve been an activist since 2007, and I’ve been working to try to get legislation passed to protect us and educate the public on the REAL ID issue. When my driver’s license expired, I realized the state was not going to protect us and so I opted against renewing my license.”

In contrast, Jena Baker McNeil, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, in an interview with Homeland Security NewsWire argued, “There is not a single database created to serve REAL ID. It simply directs states to network their own databases together so that they can talk to one another and try to identify fraud. No one in the federal government will be able to access any information—meaning there is nothing “national” about the process.”

McNeil went on to say, “This program is absolutely necessary. I think REAL ID is the right path forward in terms of secure credentialing. Before this bill was passed, the security of driver’s license was horrendous and a huge security and identity theft loophole that terrorists and criminals continue to exploit—it makes sense for us to get serious about this—and I think REAL ID is the right way to do it.”

Working in conjunction with the Constitutional Alliance, a privacy group against the government use of biometrics, Beach beat the ticket in traffic court when the city attorney dismissed the case and is now moving ahead with a civil suit.

So far thirty-two states have fully complied or are in the midst of complying with the stipulation set forth under the REAL ID Act, and a total of forty-four have said they plan on fully complying.