Four years, many changes

Provisions of the Real ID Act have been a moving target

The original Real ID Act of 2005 was part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief that was signed into law May 11, 2005. On June 15, 2009, several senators introduced the Providing for Additional Security in States Identification Act (PASS ID), which would change several provisions of Real ID.

REAL ID

The Real ID Act required states to:

* Meet design requirements for driver’s licenses and identification cards, including the use of tamper-proof features, a digital photograph and machine-readable technology, such as bar codes.
* Verify source documents presented to prove identification through the use of electronic systems connected to federal databases.
* Verify that individuals are not holders of a separate license in any other state by checking newly created databases maintained by individual states.
* Ensure the physical security of facilities where driver’s licenses and identification cards are produced.

Key dates

May 11, 2008: States are not obligated to comply with Real ID, but after this date, federal agencies cannot accept for official purposes a state driver’s license or identity card unless the issuing state meets the requirements of the Real ID Act. Official purposes include accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

Final Rules

DHS issued final rules for Real ID on Jan. 11, 2008, extending deadlines and loosening some requirements:

* Removed more rigid card design requirements.
* Allowed states to choose from among several design options and self-certify compliance.
* Extended the enrollment period.

PASS ID

* Removes the requirement that states establish databases that other states access electronically as a means to avoid issuing multiple Real IDs to individual.
* Requires privacy and security protections for personally identifiable information in back-end systems.
* Prohibits the inclusion of a cardholder’s Social Security number in the ID card’s machine readable zone.
* Does not require states to be charged for accessing federal databases in connection with the issuance of ID cards.

About the Author

Alan Joch is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire.

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