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Begich Puts Alaskans’ Privacy First: Works to Repeal REAL ID

U.S. Senator Mark Begich joined Montana Senators John Walsh (D-M) and Jon Tester (D-MT) on Wednesday to co-sponsor a bill to repeal the controversial REAL ID program and get rid of federal requirements that Alaskans’ private driver’s license information be placed in a database and shared with every other state.

The bill would repeal a requirement for states to comply by 2016 with a national standard to collect and display personal information on state-issued identification like driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs.

“The heavy-handed federal government has no business collecting in bulk Alaskans personal information,” said Begich. “I agree with many Alaskans that REAL ID is a potential threat to privacy. After the Administration’s surveillance scandals I’m not surprised Alaskans are reluctant to follow a national program that dictates the way their personal data is collected and displayed on their driver’s license. We need a better balance of protecting our national security while also safeguarding our right to privacy.”

If not repealed, some Alaskans could find their Alaska drivers' licenses rejected when they try to enter federal courthouses in Alaska or by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Alaska airports.

This legislation echoes similar efforts at the state level.  In 2013, Governor Sean Parnell signed into law Alaska HB 69 which prohibits the implementation of REAL ID in Alaska.  By repealing the national program this federal legislation would prevent the federal government from punishing Alaskans for not participating.

The Repeal REAL ID Act will repeal the sections of the REAL ID Act of 2005 that:

·         Placed federal requirements on what information must be included on state-issued identification

·         Mandated that states establish a database of personal information and driving records, making them available to other states

·         Would limit access to federal facilities and airplane travel for individuals with non-compliant IDs

The Repeal REAL ID Act would also ensure that states maintain control of setting standards for what information is included in a state-issued ID, what materials would be required to obtain an ID, and most significantly, will protect the personal information of private citizens from being entered into a database.

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