Radio Frequency Identity Chips and the Real ID Act of 2005
I first heard of Radio Frequency Identity Chips (“RFID Chips”) a year ago when I was warned that they would soon be put into passports. I got a new passport last February which had a machine readable strip – nothing new, but my old passport had not had one because it had been issued by an embassy, and it was only after
President Bush signed HR 418, the Real ID Act of 2005, into law on
The Real ID Act has nothing to do with passports, it has to do with a mandatory national identity card, which will be forced on us by masquerading itself as a driver’s license or state ID.
Congressman Ron Paul: Supporters claim it is not a national ID because it is voluntary. However, any state that opts out will automatically make non-persons out of its citizens. The citizens of that state will be unable to have any dealings with the federal government because their ID will not be accepted. They will not be able to fly or to take a train. In essence, in the eyes of the federal government they will cease to exist. It is absurd to call this voluntary. Republican Party talking points on this bill, which claim that this is not a national ID card, nevertheless endorse the idea that "the federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification such as driver’s licenses." So they admit that they want a national ID but at the same time pretend that this is not a national ID.
Here are a few things for which our licenses or state ID cards are currently used:
- Boarding an airplane
- Boarding an Amtrak train
- Obtaining federal hunting or fishing licenses
- Obtaining a passport
- Writing a check at the supermarket
- Cashing payroll or state aid checks
- Enlisting in the military
- Voting in a federal election
- Buying beer
- Entering a federal building
- Entering a bar or club
- Obtaining federal firearms licenses
- Entering a military installation
We will be able to do none of these things by 2008 without our new national ID cards.
It is not yet certain what information will be embedded in the new ID cards nor what kind of technology will be used in them. That has been left up to the discretion of the Department for Fatherland Security.
The information that starts out in the cards will be at the very least: name, date of birth, place of residence (no more p.o. box addresses), social security number, and physical characteristics.
The technology will be at best, machine readable strips and, at worst, RFID Chips. I have done a bit of research into the technology behind RFID Chips. They are already commonly used on some toll roads where a receiver reads the chip that is embedded in the sticker on your windshield. Once we have the RFID Chips in our licenses/ID cards and passports, they can be read whenever and wherever without our knowledge, which means a complete end to privacy. It will become possible for the government (and others) to easily track our movements and know exactly where we are and with whom at all times.
We will not be able to leave our IDs at home because we could be asked to show them at any time. A private citizen will immediately become suspect if s/he is not emitting a proper radio frequency from his/her RFID chip.
This is all in the name of stopping terrorism, of course.
In addition to our new mandatory national ID, the Real ID Act can also effectively close our borders. It authorises the Secretary of Fatherland Security to waive all federal, state and local laws to expedite construction of security fences and barriers at our borders.
There are many other problems with the Real ID Act, e.g. its effect on immigrants and asylum seekers, its cost and identity theft, but they are far too many to go into here.
One more thing: the Real ID Act is in direct conflict with the 10th Amendment to our Constitution. The powers not delegated to the
Oh, and by the way, those of us living overseas may not be able to renew our driver’s licenses at all.
For more information on the Real ID Act of 2005 (for a start):
For more information on RFID Chips, please see (for a start):