The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) today urged Congress to provide federal funding for implementation of the Real ID Act, citing a new national poll in which more than eight out of ten Americans said driver's licenses should meet minimum national standards to help battle terrorism and other crimes. ITAA funded the research. Results were compiled from interviewing 800 adults nationally.
"We now have the technology to improve security and personal privacy through Real ID and we know it will reduce identity theft, fraud, and other abuses while strengthening homeland security," said ITAA President and CEO Phil Bond in a letter to Congress. "The survey results show the overwhelming public support for those efforts. Appropriating $50 million would signal a clear recognition by Congress that the federal government must be a full partner with the states in implementing Real ID."
The survey found that 82 percent of adults favor a nationwide program for new rules and regulations for state-issued driver's licenses or identification card designed to help prevent terrorism, identity theft and other crimes. A total of 91 percent of those polled strongly agreed that states should be required to meet national minimum standards for driver's licenses and IDs to make it harder for criminals to use fake IDs to commit crimes, such as identity theft.
In other results, 89 percent of those polled would be willing to provide additional identification information to prove their identity for driver's licenses. Eighty-eight percent would be willing to pay additional cost for a new driver's license or other ID if it is more secure and resistant to identity theft and other fraud.
"This is an issue that crosses party, ethnicity, age, region, education, and income lines," said Jim Burton, a vice president of the survey research firm Public Opinion Strategies which conducted the poll and included questions about REAL ID. "There is overwhelming support for new national rules and regulations regarding state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards designed to help prevent terrorism, identity theft and other crimes."
Burton added that the respondents' willingness to act on their beliefs was telling: "Often times, we find a disconnect between what people say they support and what they are actually willing to do themselves. That is not the case here. The public agrees new rules are necessary, and they are willing to provide the information to meet the new rules."
Congress passed the REAL ID Act on May 11, 2005, based on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission for the federal government to increase the security of identification documents, like driver's licenses and social security cards. The terrorists responsible for 9/11 used fraudulently obtained driver's licenses and other false IDs in their travels and preparations for the attacks.
In Congressional action on appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2008, the House of Representatives has set aside $50 million to assist states with the implementation of REAL ID, but separately the Senate voted against an amendment that would have allocated $300 million for implementation. The House and Senate are expected to resolve these differences this fall in conference committee or as part of a continuing resolution or other omnibus measure.