Pennsylvania Real ID Hearings Threaten $45 Million PennDOT Contract
Republic Media News Wire Release
January 23 Hearings Threaten Viisage Contract
Pennsylvania Legislature May Cut Funding
Upcoming hearings in the Pennsylvania House Intergovernmental Affairs Committee over anti-Real ID legislation is threatening a $45.5 million contract between Viisage Technologies (Nasdaq: VISGE) and PennDOT. Angry taxpayers, civil liberties advocates, veterans and theological viewpoints have been hammering on the state legislature to roll back Real ID implementation, biometric photographs, and other gains made by Viisage in their deal with the Commonwealth.
NBC affiliate, WGAL-TV 8 in Lancaster County, PA, broke a story on Tuesday, 1-15-08 about the existence of the Viisage contract that dates back to 1999. Veterans of American armed services claim this contract’s extensions that allow for the collecting of high resolution photographs by state driver’s license bureaucrats, and transferring them to the home office of Viisage, is unknown to most of the General Assembly, and is a totally foreign concept within the general public.
Included in this Article: Video Feature Interview with Rep. Sam Rohrer, Sen. Folmer's Press Conference and PDF Document from Viisage Bragging about the deal to implement RealID.
The contract includes provisions for applying patented FaceEXPLORER ™ technology to even legacy license photos, enabling the creation of a massive data base used for biometric identification of citizens. Civil libertarians, many religions, and others are crying "foul."
News of the forward progress into Real ID is not sitting well with much of the General Assembly either, and activists are targeting both the Appropriations and Intergovernmental Affairs committees to get the word out.
VIEW PROOF OF THIS DEAL:
Download the PDF Document from Our Files Section
James R. Compton, III, a 25 year veteran Navy pilot, has been telling legislators that "new Navy recruits are told not to acquire stock in companies that have DOD contracts, to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest. To have former Coast Guard Admiral James Loy pushing for Real ID while #2 man at the Department of Homeland Security, and then to exit government only to become a director and shareholder in the primary company selling Real ID implementing technology to the states is just plain wrong. We should not even be having this discussion."
Other former high-ranking government officials who promoted Real ID are exiting public service in favor of L-1 Identity Solutions, Inc., (NYSE: ID) the parent company of Viisage.
Compton and others are irate over the Executive Branch implementing Real ID’s provisions when both houses of the Assembly have passed respective resolutions condemning Real ID.
Aaron Bolinger and Jim Compton review materials in the NVCCA Legislative Law Library.
Federal government agencies pushing for Real ID include the FBI and CIA, and citizens are appalled that Louis Freeh and George Tenet also held or hold top positions with L-1 after exiting government posts.
"We would not even know of this situation were it not for L-1 boasting to their shareholders about both the PennDOT contract, and the number of former government insiders now working with these tech companies," Compton added. "Showing this to members of the Appropriations Committee more than raises eyebrows. This is helping us get hearings on anti-Real ID legislation that has been in the works for nearly a year."
WATCH VIDEO: Sam Ettaro interviews Rep. Sam Rohrer on the efforts to kill Real ID in Pennsylvania.
HB 1351, the bill that would prohibit biometric data accumulation by PennDOT and Viisage, could cause the collapse of a large Viisage contract. 69 members of the PA House have signed on as co-sponsors to this Anti-Real ID bill, and another 35% of the Senate are signed on to SB 1220, the companion piece in that Assembly body.
A hearing is scheduled on 1-23-08 under the leadership of W. Curtis Thomas, chairman of the House IGA committee. Thomas is himself a sponsor of HB 1351, so groups involved with the anti-Real ID coalition believes this is the beginning of the end of Real ID in Pennsylvania.
WATCH VIDEO: Senator Mike Folmer hosts a press conference in Harrisburg making public the Viisage deal and throwing down the gauntlet of resistance.
Last week, on the heels of the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiling the implementing regulations for Real ID, the American Civil Liberties Union called the new regs "like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." Eight states have already prohibited Real ID by law in their jurisdictions, according to www.realnightmare.org the national Real ID tracking site operated by the ACLU. Other states are following suit this legislative session by introducing such bills.
Ettaro will be in Harrisburg to cover the hearings in video. Stay tuned to Republic Media for more on this breaking story!