WASHINGTON, May 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is by Brian Zimmer, President, Coalition for a Secure Driver's License:
Monday, May 11 marks the 10 year anniversary of the passing of the REAL ID Act of 2005, a law requiring the federal government to establish security standards for state-issued driver's licenses used for "official purposes." These purposes, according to the final rule, include entering a federal facility, entering a nuclear power plant, or boarding airplanes.
The law directly addressed a 9/11 Commission recommendation, which noted that "for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons", in order to establish a stricter approach to verifying identity and proof of legal entry. The complexity of the rule-making and statutory requirement that the regulations be negotiated alongside the states delayed the final rule until January of 2008. The result was more than forty REAL ID benchmarks that states must meet. Today, twenty three states are deemed fully compliant with the federal benchmarks and all but five states and one territory have committed to become compliant. That score card demonstrates that the REAL ID Act has brought a higher level of identity security to nearly 200 million driver's license holders.
This difficult and time intensive transformation of driver's license issuance has taken place in the very agencies that we deal with most often, the DMV, yet most of us are unaware that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began a multi-year REAL ID enforcement action last year. That's because nearly all of the American public lives in states that comply with the REAL ID benchmarks or in states that are making progress towards them. The progress made is a remarkable collective achievement by state governments, requiring massive re-training and automation to reliably confirm proofs of identity.
DHS is now on track with its enforcement schedule and people from non-compliant states who present driver's licenses for identification to enter secure federal facilities are being turned away. Beginning in 2016, people carrying driver's licenses from non-compliant states will be denied boarding at airports unless they present passports or acceptable alternative IDs.
Most states' governing officials have realized that strong security for driver's licenses is good policy for public safety, as well as for national security. It's also good politics, as polls consistently show the identity fraud prevention benefits and privacy protections provided through compliance are supported by a majority of the public. Astute governors recognize that the myths promulgated by REAL ID Act opponents are fiction and that their states' epidemic levels of identity theft and fraud can be combatted through tighter driver's license security.
The result of REAL ID compliance is that the states confirm that applicants are who they say they are before issuing them driver's licenses. Within a decade of the REAL ID Act's enactment, most states have dramatically improved the reliability of the driver's license as a proof of identity. This is valuable for the many transactions that have nothing to do with driving a vehicle, like passing through a TSA checkpoint before boarding an airplane.
Critics of the REAL ID Act unfairly labeled it as an overreaction to what they believed was a single isolated terrorist attack in 9/11. In fact, driver's license identity deception schemes appear as subplots within many of the fifty or so terrorist cases for which federal indictments have been issued in the U.S. over the past decade. Meanwhile, ISIS just released the 2015 terrorist guidebook, "How to Survive in the West", instructing terrorists on how attack targets in Western countries as federal arrests of Islamic State (ISIS) recruited American citizens occur monthly. One excerpt from the ebook proliferating online advises that "You may rent cars under fake identity papers and install bombs in them." The core concern that IDs are used as weapons in the 9/11 Commission's report has been repeatedly demonstrated by Al Qaeda and is being underscored by the Islamic State. My family is less at risk because the REAL ID Act is the law of the land, and so are most Americans.
About Keeping IDentities Safe:
Keeping IDentities Safe is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, not for profit, crime prevention education public charity, supported by donor contributions from across the United States. Its slogan, "Working to protect the identity of every American", embodies its commitment to higher standards for both government and private entities that issue identity credentials, especially state agencies that issue driver's licenses and ID cards. Keeping IDentities Safe undertakes research projects addressing best practices for DMVs, compliance with federal laws and regulations, identity fraud prevention and related identity management topics. It provides research results and educational programs to the public and to state and federal officials. Keeping IDentities Safe is a member of the Document Security Alliance and of the American National Standards Institute.
SOURCE Keeping IDentities Safe