The days when your state-issued driver’s license will be a federally mandated national ID card are closer than you think – and in fact it’s already taking hold in some locations.
About 20 states are now fully in compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005, which requires that state driver’s licenses meet rigid standards set by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Persons without Real ID compliant driver’s licenses will not be able to fly on airplanes in 2016 and already are prohibited from entering some federal facilities. Instead, such people will have to bring another form of ID, such as a passport.
“Having a Real ID-compliant card is optional,” Kevin Malone of the Nevada Motor Vehicles Department told The Las Vegas Review Journal. “But eventually, you’re going to need one if you use your driver’s license as an ID when you fly.”
Nevada residents will need such a card because their state’s current driver’s license is not in compliance with Real ID. Residents of Idaho using a license as an ID are already barred from the Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility, TV station KTVB 7 reported.
Critics have warned that law that mandated the ID is open to abuse. That’s because in its list of locations where an acceptable driver’s license is required, the law’s text says it “includes but is not limited to” federal buildings, aircraft and nuclear plants “and any other purposes” that the Department of Homeland Security secretary requires. In essence, DHS could require the use of the ID just about anywhere.
Additionally, as more and more states place RFID chips in their licenses – such chips are not required under the law but four states already have them – the tracking of citizens becomes even easier.
“A national ID can be used in times of crisis for really, really horrible things,” Jim Harper of The Cato Institute told Off The Grid Radio.
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth interview with Harper about the Real ID Act here.)
Story continues below the video:
What is Real ID?
Real ID was a federal law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2005. The ID behind it was to make it harder for terrorists and criminals to get driver’s licenses in the United States. It:
- Sets standards for driver’s licenses and other ID cards issued by state governments.
- Requires states to ask driver’s license applicants and persons renewing their licenses for proof of citizenship or legal residence in the USA.
- Makes driver’s licenses more difficult to forge.
- Requires states to share all driver’s license data with other states.
- Mandates digital photos for use with facial recognition software.
The Associated Press reported that only 460,000 of the 5.4 million driver’s licenses issued by the state of Washington meet Real ID’s standards.
“Nobody has ever done this before … so enforcing this law is going to be a major challenge,” Brian Zimmer, the president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, told USA Today.
Zimmer helped write the Real ID Act as a congressional staffer, but since then the law has been a tough sell to states. Around 17 state legislatures passed laws trying to ban compliance with real ID.
“Years of study have shown that this does not do much for security,” Harper told Off The Grid Radio. “Should we spend as a society millions of dollars, should we threaten our own liberties … just so we can cause a minor inconvenience to a future terrorist? I don’t think we should.”
The ACLU opposes it.
“It is impossible to imagine DHS keeping the citizens of any of those states off of airplanes,” ACLU attorney Chris Calabrese told USA Today. “I don’t see that most of these states are going to have a whole lot more incentive than they have ever had to do this, which is to say, none.”
Do you believe the Real ID Act is a good idea or a bad one that should be axed? Share your thoughts in the section below: