DHS releases draft regulations for Real ID

Minimum Standards for Driver’s licenses and Identification Cards Acceptable by Federal Agencies for Official Purposes

 The Homeland Security Department today released draft regulations to
 implement the Real ID Act, almost two years after the law passed, and a day
 after Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and others introduced a bill to repeal
 the act.

 The Real ID initiative would establish federal standards for driver¹s
 licenses and identification cards for citizens. States would be required to
 bear the cost of creating and distributing the licenses, and of maintaining
 identity databases.

 The draft guidelines include security features and physical standards for
 the cards.

 Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking Republican member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there was ³little dispute about the need to meet these essential minimum security standards.² However Davis expressed concerns about the costs and the approaching deadline for Real ID
compliance.

 There is ³not much more than one year before the May 2008 deadline for
 state-issued documents to meet the more stringent standards,² Davis said.
 ³Some states will need more time to reconfigure their systems, and many will
 need help meeting the start-up costs attributable to Real ID
 implementation.²

 Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) indicated in early February that she intended
 to introduce legislation to delay the 2008 deadline to give states more
 time.

 Funding, however, remains a top concern. In total, states expect to pay $11
 billion to replace current driver¹s licenses with Real ID-compliant
 identification cards. At the end of January, Maine state legislators
 rejected the act, questioning the security of the cards and refusing to
 shoulder the $185 million bill the state would have to pay for the cards.

 Meanwhile, security experts suggested that funding should come from national
 sources before the identification program can be implemented.

 "We just need a major infusion of capital in the form of federal funding so
 the states can secure their driver license and ID issuance processes," said
 Janice Kephart, former counsel to the 9/11 Commission.

 In reintroducting his bill on Feb. 28 to repeal the law, Akaka said, "As I
 said last year, the REAL ID Act will require every driver's licensing agency
 to collect and store substantial numbers of records containing licensees'
 most sensitive personally identifiable information, including one's social
 security number, proof of residence, and biometric identifiers such as a
 digital photograph and signature. If the state databases are compromised,
 they will provide one-stop access to virtually all information necessary to
 commit identity theft."

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