My Turn: Your Alaska driver’s license and the REAL ID

  • By PAMELA GOODE
  • Thursday, March 10, 2016 1:02am
  • Opinion

My research began trying to determine if the DMV was actually using facial recognition software for the new Driver License (DL) photograph and if so, why? To me, this would be a violation of privacy rights if confirmed. Apparently, DMV chooses to call it “image verification” but it’s the same thing. Most people are not aware of this because DMV is deliberately not telling you, unless you ask. So what happens to the people who refuse to give them their facial biometric data? As of now, right or wrong, you don’t get a license.

At this point I knew very little about the REAL ID. It was the DMV that kept bringing it up. They wanted to make clear that I understood this was not the REAL ID. So I looked into the REAL ID that Alaska supposedly didn’t have.

According to a Marketwatch.com story, the REAL ID Act “set standards, which include requiring applicants to provide proof of identity and legal U.S. residency, and requiring states to use counterfeit-resistant security features in the IDs.” The Alaska DMV website states, “The new card design and issuance process is part of a nationwide effort to make it harder for criminals to obtain your identity. The newly designed card will include numerous security features to protect your identity and reduce fraud.” What they are not telling you is the “issuance process” utilizes facial recognition “image verification” to prove you are who you say you are. I could find no difference between the REAL ID and the new Alaska DL.

Marketwatch.com also stated; “As of now, there are 23 states whose IDs are “fully compliant” with the REAL ID Act, and 27 states have received extensions. The only states and territories that are not compliant, and haven’t received extensions, are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington and American Samoa.” Alaska must be on the extension list as their current process is a plan in place.

So who is actually making the new Alaska DL and has access to your data? DMV tells me it’s housed only in Alaska on Alaska servers. In 2012, Marquis ID System (MIS), located in the Lower 48, won the contract. MIS stated in a press release that not only did they win the contract with Alaska, “The system will also incorporate new state-of-the-art Facial Recognition and Document Authentication Systems.” Shortly after MIS was awarded the Alaska contract, a company, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands by the name of Gemalto, bought them out 100 percent. Gemalto does business with over 80 different international governments. From this, more than Alaska has access to your data.

Is this lawful? The new Alaska DL started in June 2014. In 2013, the state Legislature passed HB 69 into law; Alaska Statute 44.99.040 Limitation on use of assets: “ A state or municipal agency may not use or authorize the use of an asset to implement or aid in the implementation of a requirement of P.L. 109-13, Division B (REAL ID Act of 2005).” If this is the REAL ID in disguise, this not only violates state law, but more importantly, your rights and constitutional protections; Alaska Constitution, Article 1, Section 22 (the Right to Privacy) and Section 14 (Searches and Seizures.) This also portrays a lack of moral and ethical behavior coming from the bureaucrats that seem to be running our state government and ignoring legislative restraint.

After six months, I have yet to receive the truth or even an answer that makes sense. DMV remains silent when asked what they plan on doing with all the people who want a driver’s license and refuse to submit their facial recognition biometric data. And what about those whose rights were violated and want their data back since it was taken without consent? Unfortunately, silence is consent. So if you don’t stand up for your rights, who do you expect to do it for you? The complaint form for the Alaska Ombudsman can be found online and submitted via email or post mail.

• Pamela Goode lives in Delta Junction.

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