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Testimony to Alaska Senate Committee on REAL ID Act (SB34)

Friday, February 24, 2017 9:09
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Chairman Dunleavy and Members of the Committee:

I am pleased to speak with you today about the REAL ID Act, which your state is under pressure to implement on behalf of the federal government. In my testimony today, I will share my view that REAL ID is a misdirected policy, both nationally and for the states. It is a weak security measure, creating a national ID that exposes Americans to loss of privacy, hacking, and identity fraud risks. You should not implement REAL ID. Americans and Alaskans will be worse off if you help steer them into this national ID system.

Seeking to force state compliance, the federal government is again threatening to deny residents of non-compliant states access to airports and other facilities controlled by federal ID requirements. To protect state powers and prerogatives—as well as Alaskans’ privacy—your state should continue to refuse compliance. After another period of bluster and threat, the federal government will back down again, as it has many times before.

Rather than comply with REAL ID, you should ask Alaska’s congressional delegation to have all REAL ID deadlines immediately suspended. Your delegation should see that Congress discontinues funding of REAL ID in annual federal appropriations, and that Congress repeals the REAL ID Act. Congress and the

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are responsible for fixing the mess they have created by passing and pressing for REAL ID. This should not be the Alaska legislature’s or governor’s problem.


I am a vice president at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and formerly a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Both are think tanks in Washington, D.C. dedicated to our nation’s founding principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and peace. REAL ID is a topic I have focused on for more than a decade.

My 2006 book, Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood, examined identification processes and policies, including the REAL ID Act. I testified at the first legislative hearing on REAL ID, which was not conducted in the U.S. Congress. The first hearing on REAL ID was in the New Mexico legislature in September 2006—more than a year after Congress passed the law.

I have also testified on REAL ID in Congress and numerous other state legislatures around the country. I have monitored the odd, ugly process by which states have been dragged toward implementation of REAL ID against their better judgment and against the interests of their citizens.

REAL ID is against the interest of Americans because it is a poor security measure. That primary consideration cuts against implementation of the federal government’s mandates.

Read the full testimony here

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Jim Harper
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