Could Real IDs violate your privacy? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Could Real IDs violate your privacy?

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Beginning this month, Vermonters can get a driver's license that is also a federal identification card. It's called the Real ID.

"Every state was asked to do this to make a more secure driver's license so that people were sure that the person presenting the document was exactly who that person is," said Robert Ide, the commissioner of the Vt. Department of Motor Vehicles.

So far, at least 20 states offer the option of a Real ID card. It was introduced by Homeland Security and is funded by the federal government.

"Vermont started on this path over five years ago of taking steps to become compliant. It was just about a year ago that we were notified by Homeland Security that we had met all the steps," Ide said.

The Real ID works as a driver's license for now. But sometime in the near future the federal government is expected to make the ID mandatory. In the future, the new ID may also be used when boarding a commercial flight, entering a federal building or a nuclear power plant.

When you come to the DMV to renew your driver's license and decide to go with the Real ID, you may not be required to retake your photo but some of the documents you will need include your Social Security card and your birth certificate before you can sign off and get your Real ID. And it's all that personal information that has some worried about privacy protection.

"Whenever you take a lot of data about people and put it in one database you're essentially creating a target for hackers and people who are coming to steal identities," said Allen Gilbert of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I would tell people that their information is safe with us, that we do not share it," Ide said. "This is not a system where the federal government can look at our data."

Drivers we spoke with who have already gotten their Real IDs say they are not concerned.

"I think there's more ways to violate someone's privacy than through their driver's license like through the internet or other things," said Clinton Wild, who has a Real ID.

The ACLU says it had hoped for a public debate before the new IDs were implemented.

"If we learned anything from 9-11 it's that basic police work rather than complicated technology surveillance systems are the things that really can be used to thwart terror attacks," Gilbert said.

The Vermont DMV won't know until 2016 if and when the Real IDs will become mandatory, so until then, Vermonters still have the option of opting out.

Click here for more information about what documents are required to receive a Real ID.

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