The citizens of several US states may soon find that they can’t use their drivers’ licenses to get into federal facilities or even board planes.
Enforcement of a 2005 federal law that sets identification standards, known as “Real ID,” has been long-delayed. But now Department of Homeland Security officials say enforcement is imminent. The “Real ID” law requires states to implement certain security features before they issue IDs and verify the legal residency of anyone to whom they issue an ID card. The statute is in part a response to the suggestion of the 9/11 Commission, which noted that four of the 19 hijackers used state-issued ID cards to board planes.
Real ID also requires states to share their databases of driver information with other states. The information-sharing provisions are a big reason why some privacy groups opposed the law, saying it would effectively be the equivalent of a national identification card.
The federal government can’t force state licensing agencies to change their practices to conform to Real ID standards. But it can stop those with state-issued IDs from using them to enter federal facilities, such as military bases, or to board commercial planes. The renewed push for compliance comes at a time when concerns about terrorism are again high due to recent bloody attacks in Paris and California.
The law was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2008 but was subject to repeated delays. In recent months, DHS has been telling states those delays are over and that the law will be implemented in 2016. However, any restrictions on air travel won’t go into place without at least 120 days’ notice, and no state has received such a notice yet. In several states, however, restrictions on entering federal buildings could kick in as early as January 10