The Real ID Act 2005 – Official Purposes and Your Biometrics

The Constitutional Alliance has written over 100 articles about the Real ID Act 2005 since the law was enacted 17 years ago. The Constitutional Alliance provided States/Commonwealths with legislation that prevented the agency or department that oversees the issuance of drivers’ licenses or valid issued identification cards for those that do not drive, from complying with the Real ID Act 2005. Further, the Constitutional Alliance testified in many States/Commonwealths in opposition to the Real ID Act 2005. Finally, the Constitutional Alliance was invited to hearings in Congress that related to the Real ID Act 2005 and met with members of Congress, their staff and committee counsel about the Real ID Act 2005. This article is only going to address two aspects of the Real ID Act 2005: The “Official Purpose” and the collection of your biometrics.

We ask for your patience as we address the “Official Purpose.” It can be very misleading not to provide enough background information that allows the public to understand the threat the “Official Purpose” of the Real ID Act 2005 is to all freedom loving citizens.

The Real ID Act has many tenacles that are each very egregious. The law, Public Law 109-13, The Real ID Act 2005 is not a terribly long law, but it does have hundreds of pages that were published as part of the Rulemaking process. Most members of Congress and state legislators have never read the law, or the Rules issued by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) with the Department of Transportation consulting.

Those that call for the complete repeal of the Real ID Act have no idea of what the consequences would be of what they are calling for. Part of the Real ID Act, Title I, has nothing to do with the issuance of drivers’ licenses but rather deals with immigration. There are some good aspects of Title I of the Real ID Act 2005 that can help to secure our borders. Also, a complete repeal of the Real ID Act 2005 would undo the repeal of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, section 7212. Section 7212 gives the federal government control over state issued drivers’ licenses. Bottom line, if a repeal is done, the repeal must be done surgically. The repeal must only address Title II of the Real ID Act 2005 and leave in place the repeal of Section 7212 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004.

It is important for citizens to know the Real ID Act 2005 was only passed by Congress because it was attached to two “must pass” pieces of legislation. 1) A military spending bill 2) Tsunami relief legislation. The Real ID Act passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives and not one member of the United States Senate voted against the Real ID Act 2005. Finally, the Real ID Act was authored by the same congressman who authored the USA PATRIOT ACT, Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.  Participation in the Real ID Act 2005 by States and Commonwealths is voluntary.

Within the Real ID Act are the definitions. The following definition is provided for “OFFICIAL PURPOSE”:

“OFFICIAL PURPOSE- The term `official purpose’ includes but is not limited to accessing Federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, entering nuclear power plants, and any other purposes that the Secretary shall determine (our emphasis).

In an opinion column written by the former Secretary of the DHS, after the publication of the final rule, said, “embracing REAL ID” would mean it would be used to “cash a check, hire a baby sitter, board a plane or engage in countless other activities.”   page 23

The Constitutional Alliance was asked to write this document for those that want to see our 2nd Amendment rights protected. You may wrongly believe the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security would never add purchasing a firearm and/or ammunition to the OFFICIAL PURPOSE of the Real ID Act 2005. In fact, Democrats in California have already made a move in that direction. The attempt failed at the time because all States/Commonwealths were not yet certified as being Real ID compliant. In 2021, the Department of Homeland Security certified all States/Commonwealths as being Real ID compliant.

The fact is the Biden administration, and more specifically the Secretary of DHS can post in the Federal Register tomorrow that a Real ID compliant drivers’ license must be provided to purchase a firearm and/or ammunition. The public comment period could be waived if the Secretary declared the action is necessary as an emergency because of rising firearm violence.

If you’re thinking the next Secretary of the DHS could remove the OFFICIAL PURPOSE for firearms and/or ammunition, you would be wrong. Under the law, the Secretary of DHS can only add an OFFICIAL PURPOSE, not remove an OFFICIAL PURPOSE. It would require 60 votes in the U.S. Senate, a majority of the House of Representatives, and the signing by the President of the United States to remove an OFFICIAL PURPOSE. Without the support of Democrats, the OFFICIAL PURPOSE would stand.

The Secretary of the DHS can require the seller of the firearm and/or ammunition to swipe the back of the Real ID compliant drivers’ license and provide the information to the DHS. The MRZ (Machine Readable Zone) on the back of the drivers’ license is not encrypted. The MRZ contains the information on the front of your drivers’ license.

By now we hope you have figured out that the Real ID Act 2005 was not about making sure a person is who they say they are and only has one active drivers’ license, or valid issued ID at a time. If you have not, you will by the time your finished reading this paper.

The 9/11 Commission said that one glaring problem with the issuance of State drivers’ licenses and/or State identification cards for those that do not drive is States/Commonwealths did not have a set of common standards that apply to all drivers’ licenses or identification cards that States/Commonwealth’s issue. The Real ID Act and the Rulemaking process for the Real ID Act put in place a set of standards that States/Commonwealths were required to meet.

To be clear, the need for common standards did not require federal intervention. All States/Commonwealths belong to an organization named AAMVA (American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators). AAMVA routinely issues “Best Practices.” AAMVA very simply could have published additional Best Practices to put in place common standards for the issuance of all drivers’ license or Valid issued ID’s for those that do not drive.

You might think the common standards make perfect sense. Perhaps, if that was really what the Real ID Act 2005 was about. The 9/11 Commission also said that States/Commonwealths must know a person is who they say they are, and not have more than one active drivers’ license or identification card at a time. Public Law 109-13, The Real ID Act calls for each applicant for a drivers’ license to provide specific documentation to prove who they are.

One document that citizens must provide to acquire a drivers’ license or valid issued ID is a birth certificate. There is an exception, if an individual has another acceptable document stating their name, date of birth, and place of birth the State or Commonwealth can accept that document. The birth certificate must be the original birth certificate or a certified copy of the original birth certificate. The Real ID Act requires States/Commonwealths to verify the authenticity of the birth certificates presented by the applicant applying for a drivers’ license or valid issued identification card for those that do not drive

You may think it would be difficult to verify birth certificates. It is not hard at all. States/Commonwealths all can use a national telecommunication network named EVVE (Electronic Verification of Vital Events). EVVE does not require a national database of birth certificates. What EVVE does is allow every Department of Motor Vehicles, or whatever agency or department of States or Commonwealths that oversees the issuance of drivers’ licenses or valid issued ID for those that do not drive, to verify the birth certificate of the applicant. If the applicant and the State or Commonwealth where the applicant was born do not have the applicant’s birth certificate, or other document that has the applicants name, data of birth, and place of birth, EVVE can still verify a person’s identity by using the database of a data mining company.

States and Commonwealths have not been using EVVE, but some are starting to come aboard. Not every State or Commonwealth has digitized their birth certificates going back seventy years. The Constitutional Alliance has had several conversations with the Program Director for EVVE. In 2020, the Program Director for EVVE provided information to a state representative the Constitutional Alliance works with. The Program Director said at the time that less than $10 million and one year would be needed for all States and Commonwealths to be able to verify the birth certificates in every State or Commonwealth.

Why for so little money and such a short period of time aren’t States and Commonwealths verifying birth certificates?  Because the Real ID Act 2005 was more about collecting a high resolution, digital facial image/photo that is facial recognition technology compatible than making sure you are who you say you are.  We are going on twenty-one years after 9/11/2001 and States and Commonwealths cannot say they are verifying the identity, date of birth, and place of birth of every applicant for a drivers’ license or valid issued ID for those that do not drive.

The Real ID Act 2005 was about giving the federal government more power and your biometrics. The Official Purpose of the Real ID Act gives a blank check to the Secretary of DHS to create Official Purposes. The Real ID Act 2005 codified in federal law that States and Commonwealths would no longer capture and collect analog photographs that are not facial recognition compatible. States and Commonwealths are required by the Real ID Act to collect your facial biometrics using a high resolution digital facial image. Congress had no problem giving the FBI a billion dollars for their biometic database named NGI *Next Generation Identification.” Funding EVVE the $10 million it needs seems like a drop in the bucket because it is! Real ID was and is about giving more power to the federal government and giving the federal government access to your biometric digital facial image.

The Constitutional Alliance is a conservative organization with members in all States/Commonwealths. The Constitutional Alliance is comprised of state legislators, state organizations, ministries, and private citizens. You can contact the Constitutional Alliance by emailing Steve Meyer, the Executive Director at [email protected] or visiting the Constitutional Alliance web-site

Steve Meyer
[email protected]

Steve Meyer is an accomplished information management professional. He’s owned successful businesses and worked for global multi-national conglomerates. When it comes to security, privacy issues, data-mining and forensics, Steve is a nationally recognized expert who’s spoken before world thought leaders in Washington D.C. during an ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) event sponsored by the high tech firms of the day.