Puerto Rico: Real ID is really intrusive

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September 17, 2008 @ 22:57 UTC

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Human Rights, Terrorism and Security
 

Puerto Rican bloggers are calling attention to the government's latest deed, the application of the Real ID Act to the island's drivers. The Real ID, which has come under fire by many states in the mainland US, is one of the measures implemented by President Bush's administration to “fight terrorism”. According to Wikipedia:

The REAL ID Act of 2005 is U.S. federal law which imposes certain security, authentication and issuance procedures standards for the state driver's licenses and state ID cards, in order for them to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Currently, the Secretary of Homeland Security has defined “official purposes” as presenting state driver's licenses and identification cards for boarding commercially operated airline flights, entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants.

Opponents believe the problem with the Act comes from the fact that the required documentation reveals too much about the person for comfort, although the law says that states are not obliged to issue a Real ID in their territories as long as they issue a clause in their licenses stating that each particular license issued by that state is not valid for federal matters and that passengers of transportation regulated by the federal government will be required to submit to additional screening procedures.

What worries many bloggers in Puerto Rico is that all the data required to get the license is going to be stored in a central database that will be linked to the databases of other states and the Federal Government. This has raised the eyebrows of people concerned about their privacy. Thus, Anthony Romero, the executive director of ACLU, stated:

Real ID is an unfunded mandate that violates the Constitution's 10th Amendment on state powers, destroys states' dual sovereignty and consolidates every American's private information, leaving all of us far more vulnerable to identity thieves.

The act has been rejected by most of the 50 states, from Arkansas to Wyoming, but on July 7 2008, Puerto Rico Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá announced that all 15 Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works Driver's Services Centers will implement a new system complying with the Real ID Act.

Ivonne Acosta Lespier, a noted Puerto Rican historian, said in her blog (es) Sin Mordazas:

En Puerto Rico bajo este gobierno no se puede siquiera pestañear porque le cuelan a uno cosas increíbles. En contraste con muchos estados que se han opuesto al Real ID y por eso hubo que posponer la puesta en vigor del reglamento, nuestro colonizado Gobernador (que se las da de “soberanista” cuando le conviene), ha aceptado con entusiasmo ser partícipe del espionaje del Homeland Security…

In Puerto Rico under this government you cannot even blink because they stick you with incredible things. Contrary to many other states who have openly opposed the implementation of the Real ID, our colonized governor (who boasts of being a sovereigntist when the need be) has accepted enthusiastically to be a participant of the Homeland Security spying…

The action taken by the governor of Puerto Rico has been seen by many as an act of subservience. According to the satirical blog (es) El Ñame

Acevedo Vilá Se Lesiona La Espalda Eñangotándose Ante Los EEUU Al Implantar El “Real ID”

Acevedo Víla [Puerto Rico's governor] injured his back while bowing before the US when Implementing the “Real ID”

So far, the bloggers who have written most extensively about the subject have been Myrisa and Z. Teruoc in their blog (es) En el país de los ciegos, where they sum up the surprise of many in the island:

Mientras muchos estados le dicen no al Real ID, el ELA se coloca a la vanguardia del espionaje de Homeland Security. Confieso que ingenuamente creí que por buen tiempo no nos tocaría, confiada en que, dada sus posiciones neonacionalistas, el gobierno PPD dilataría este asalto del poder federal sobre la esfera local.

While many states say no to the Real ID the ELA (Puerto Rico) takes the vanguard of the Homeland Security spying. I naively confess that for a while I believed this was not going to apply to us, hoping that, given the governor's neo-nationalist positions, the PPD [current party leading the island] would stall this assault of the federal powers over our local sphere.
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