Can we trust Idaho government agencies to follow Idaho law?

While the Idaho legislature repeatedly rails against federal government intrusion and touts to protect us when federal mandates that truly threaten our privacy and civil liberties, the Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) has moved ahead and implemented changes to our drivers’ licenses in what appears to be direct violation of the state ban. Last week we learned that despite the Idaho legislature passing a law prohibiting implementation of the federal Real ID Act of 2005, everyday Idahoans are being subjected to (at least) parts of the Real ID Act. Identity source documents are being scanned and stored. Though only stored in Idaho at the moment, this information could be easily transmitted into a national databank, if it hasn’t been already.

In 2007 the Idaho legislature joined many other states to oppose the federal Real ID Act’s Orwellian vision of a national ID card. In 2007, the legislature stood up for all of us and adopted a joint message to the President and Congress that it is the official policy of the State of Idaho “to oppose any portion of the Real ID Act” that violates Idahoans’ rights and liberties. Though “we support the government of the United States in its campaign to secure our country,” the legislature said, that campaign must “not be waged at the expense of the essential civil rights and liberties of the citizens of this country.” No taxpayer money would be spent in Idaho, the legislature made clear, to implement any part of Real ID, except perhaps to mount a constitutional challenge. The following year, 2008, the Idaho legislature became the second state in country, after Maine, to impose a total statutory ban on Real ID implementation.

Fast forward to 2016, and we find that the opposite is happening. Not only has ITD been using taxpayer funds to implement Real ID in violation of Idaho law, it has been scanning and storing our private personal information without our knowledge. Allowing government agencies to capture digital images of our passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and other primary source documents creates a one-stop shop for identity thieves and critically jeopardizes the privacy rights of Idahoans. We are living in a time when hackers a capable of breaking into multi-national companies’ and retailers’ databanks.

Governor Otter led the charge, eight years ago, against Real ID implementation in Idaho. The Real ID Act is as “every bit as bad as anything George Orwell suggested in 1984,” he said, and the $40 million-plus implementation costs would be better spent improving Idaho’s education system. Hopefully the Idaho legislature will come to its senses and defeat a bill that would lift the ban on Real ID implementation. Governor Otter, for his part, needs to live up to the values he promised, ensure his government complies with Idaho’s state law ban, and stand up for every Idahoan’s liberty and privacy.