Real ID

In what could only be described as a Masterpiece in Incrementalism, the long awaited Real ID System is now mandating that states be in compliance by May 11, 2011.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards to meet federal standards by a certain date in order to be accepted for federal purposes. What is that date? All 56 U.S. jurisdictions received an initial extension through Dec. 31, 2009, from the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In December 2009, the secretary issued a statement to waive that deadline. States must now be in full-compliance by May 11, 2011. What is the penalty for non-compliance? Residents in non-compliant states will not be able to use their driver's license to board commercial aircraft, gain access to federal facilities or enter nuclear power plants. - National Conference of State Legislatures
Of particular interest are the latest entries on the NCSL website, which are detailed below.

Today: Where We Stand

On May 11, 2008, state driver's licenses and identification cards will not be accepted for federal purposes unless the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined that a state was compliant with the Real ID or a state had been granted an extension by DHS. As of April 2008, all 56 U.S. jurisdictions had received an initial extension from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The initial extension is valid until Dec. 31, 2009.

States have the option of filing by for a second extension to May 10, 2011, if the state can demonstrate it is in material compliance with 18 interim benchmarks.

That request must be made by Dec. 1, 2009. If an extension is not received, individuals in those states will not be able to use state-issued driver's licenses or identification cards to board commercial aircrafts or enter certain federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

To date, Congress has appropriated only $200 million to assist states with implementation of the Real ID.

January 2008

On January 11, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released final regulations to implement the requirements of the Real ID. The release of the final regulations precedes the May 11, 2008 deadline by a mere 120 days. DHS estimates the costs for states to implement the Real ID will not exceed $3.9 billion.

To read a copy of the Final Real ID Regulations, click here.

The legislative manipulation that occurred in 2004 marks the genesis of the Real ID Act of 2005.

The History of Federal Requirements for State Issued Driver's Licenses and Identification Cards

December 2004: Intelligence Reform Legislation

In December 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458). The legislation was in response to the recommendations made by the 9/11 commission to reform the U.S. Intelligence community and to implement other security measures to prevent future terrorist attacks against the U.S.

The law, among other things, required the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to establish a negotiated rule making process to establish minimum standards for state-issued driver's licenses (DL) and identification cards (ID). The negotiated rule making process was repealed with the enactment of "Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005" (H.R. 1268, P.L. 109-13), which included the "Real ID Act of 2005."
The Phoenix posted an article April 9, 2008, after Maine's rejection of the Real ID system.

"Like a rebellious older sibling, Maine was the first state to pass a resolution rejecting "Real ID" - the federal government's proposed standardized ID-card system - in January 2007, and followed up five months later with a law preventing the state from participating. Now, it seems that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is trying to make an example of Maine to punish us for stepping out of line. After DHS granted Real ID extensions to 49 states, the District of Columbia, and all five US territories, Maine was the sole standout as recently as last week. As a result, Mainers were in danger of losing their ability to board airplanes or enter federal buildings with state-issued driver's licenses. Had DHS not issued an extension, as it did last Wednesday, Maine IDs would have been inadmissible as federal identification starting on May 11." - more...
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation

"The federal government is trying to force states to turn your drivers license into a national ID. Unless you tell your state legislator to push back, the Real ID Act will create grave dangers to privacy and impose massive financial burdens without improving national security in the least.

Signed into law in May 2005 without meaningful debate, the Real ID Act states that drivers licenses will only be accepted for "federal purposes" - like accessing planes, trains, national parks, and court houses - if they conform to certain uniform standards. The law also requires a vast national database linking all of the ID records together.

Once the IDs and database are in place, their uses will inevitably expand to facilitate a wide range of surveillance activities. Remember, the Social Security number started innocuously enough, but it has become a prerequisite for a host of government services and been coopted by private companies to create massive databases of personal information. A national ID poses similar dangers; for example, because "common machine-readable technology" will be required on every ID, the government and businesses will be able to easily read your private information off the cards in myriad contexts."
- Threatening Your Privacy Through an Unfunded Government Mandate

The White House recently released a draft of a troubling plan titled "National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" (NSTIC). In previous iterations, the project was known as the "National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions" and emphasized, reasonably, the private sector's development of technologies to secure sensitive online transactions.

But the recent shift to "Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" reflects a radical - and concerning - expansion of the project's scope. - Real ID Online? New Federal Online Identity Plan Raises Privacy and Free Speech Concerns

In an article posted February 28, 2011 by OpEdNews, the situation is described as:
"Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued an opinion editorial to drive support for post 9-11 Commission recommendations, including increased enforcement of the Real ID Act. Rep. Smith made an attempt to connect the adequately foiled terror plot of 20 year old Khalid Ali M Alswsari in Texas as reason to sustain the Real ID Act.

In this instance, the alleged plot was stopped cold by FBI agents simply doing their jobs. Smith is simply trying to drive scared people to ask Congress to continue the Real ID program and to create funding for it before the prospect of a government shutdown in March.

He also has the ideological support of the Heritage Foundation, a neo-conservative policy firm, who is responsible for propagating the following myth." - ACTION ALERT: Spread the truth and defund the Real ID Act
In conclusion, an incredible wealth of information on Real ID is available online at - Electronic Privacy Information Center. National ID and the REAL ID Act

The Worker Biometric ID Under Consideration in US:

Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham have proposed a new national identity card. The Senators would require that "all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs" obtain a "high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card" with a unique biometric identifier.

The card, they say, would not contain private information, medical information, or tracking techniques and the biometric identifiers would not be stored in a government database.

(A REPREHENSIBLE LIE - Editorial Comment)

EPIC has testified in Congress and commented to federal agencies on the privacy and security risks associated with national identification systems and biometric identifiers. For more information, see EPIC: National ID and the REAL ID Act, EPIC: Biometric Identifiers, and the Privacy Coalition's Campaign Against REAL ID. (Mar. 24, 2010)

Research & Sources

Full Text of Title II of the REAL ID Act of 2005

DHS Final Regulations to Implement the REAL ID

Real ID Online? New Federal Online Identity Plan Raises Privacy and Free Speech Concerns
National ID and the REAL ID Act

Threatening Your Privacy Through an Unfunded Government Mandate

The History of Federal Requirements for State Issued Driver's Licenses and Identification Cards

National Conference of State Legislatures