U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign sent out a release on Monday questioning GOP Senate candidate and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s commitment to privacy. The release pointed to a company that Treadwell helped form in 1995 called Digimarc, which has provided the potential technology for REAL ID, “an invasive national ID program widely unpopular with Alaskans of all political leanings,” the release said.
“Almost everyday Mead Treadwell tells Alaskans the government ‘snoops too much’ while concealing his history of profiting from a national ID card scheme Alaskans roundly rejected as an invasion of privacy,” Susanne Fleek-Green, Begich’s campaign manager, said.
In an interview, Treadwell said that he doesn’t support REAL ID, and that he hasn’t been involved in the company’s management since around 1999, when he was a consultant. Treadwell has also said that he doesn’t support a photo ID law in Alaska, even though one of the law’s major proponents, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, came to Alaska to testify for a voter ID bill last year at Treadwell’s invitation, Kobach told the Anchorage Daily News, a characterization that Treadwell disputed.
The REAL ID ACT passed Congress in 2005. Billed as a tool to fight against terrorism, what it basically entails is that driver’s license information be placed in a database and shared with every other state. According to the feds, states have until 2017 to comply, if the law doesn’t get repealed, which is likely, considering that Alaska is one of a number of states that passed legislation bucking the bill.
Begich has cosponsored a bill to repeal the act.
Digimarc is a digital watermarking technology provider. About 70 percent of licenses across the country use the company’s technology. It lobbied Congress heavily for the Real ID ACT, which it called “transformative” for the company.
Treadwell said that he once passed on a contact with DMV to Digimarc years ago, when he was a private citizen. Since being lieutenant governor, he has not talked about the company with DMV, nor with anybody with the company about DMV, he said
Treadwell said that even though he doesn’t support REAL ID, he’s “proud of the company’s success and its global impact.
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