CLEVELAND –The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio expressed grave concern over recent reports that personal information of over 225,000 Ohioans and 64,000 state employees has been stolen as a result of careless errors and antiquated protection methods employed by the state. The data breach comes as the debate intensifies over whether states should go forward with plans to implement a national ID program.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso said, “It is clear that the protections the state has implemented to guard against ID theft are woefully inadequate.”

“Adding a completely new system with mountains of new personal data would put the private information of every Ohioan at great risk,” continued Gamso.

The “Real ID Act,” a federal law passed in 2005 and set to go into effect next year would turn state driver’s licenses into national ID cards and impose numerous new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants, and state governments – while doing little to protect against terrorism.  There is currently a nationwide push to repeal the “Real ID” Act before it goes into effect.

The federal government estimates it will cost over $23 billion dollars to implement the national ID, with much of the cost passed onto taxpayers by a projected fee increase of over $100 to obtain a driver’s license.

The national ID legislation provided few if any requirements for protecting personal data. It does not mandate that states encrypt data nor does it give specifications on how the data is to be handled.

As a result, it is stirring intense opposition from many groups across the political spectrum. Currently, 17 states have adopted legislation opposed to the national ID and there is pending legislation in 10 other states. In Ohio, HCR 18, proposed by Rep. Diana Fessler (R-Bethel Township) urges Congress to repeal the Real ID Act.

Gamso concluded, “In light of the demonstrated institutional problems with how the state handles personal information, the state should be duty-bound to opt out of the national ID program in order to prevent an even worse future debacle.”