5 Important Details About Real ID

  • Nationwide Data Sharing
  • Verification Methods
  • Facial Recognition Database
  • Integrity Checks
  • Widespread Opposition

The U.S. government passed a crucial Act after the traumatic terrorist attacks of 9/11 to prevent terrorists from traveling freely, and this list will highlight the five things you need to know about the Real ID Act. While this important Act was passed back in 2005, many states are not yet fully compliant with these standards.

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1. Nationwide Data Sharing

The biggest implication of this anti-terror Act is the adoption of nationwide data sharing on a massive scale. This sharing of information will help ensure that people are not able to get duplicate IDs in multiple states or using different names. While many privacy advocates are concerned about data sharing, most states were already voluntarily participating in data sharing programs before this Act was even introduced. The types of information that would be contained in these databases would be driver’s names, addresses, type of license and even problems that may have come up in your driving past.

2. Verification Methods

All states require some form of identity verification before issuing a driver’s license, but this Act would make certain verification methods mandatory. Real IDs can only be issued once documentation is received that proves the person’s date of birth, valid address, citizenship, social security number and lawful status as a citizen. Social security numbers will be verified through an online system, and Motor Vehicle Association staff members will be trained to recognize fraudulent documents. As an added measure of security, each individual will need to be verified through the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system to ensure they are legal citizens.

3. Facial Recognition Database

This Act requires all states to capture, document and store facial images for everyone applying for a driver’s license. If the applicant is denied a license, then the state is still required to keep the facial image. The Act requires this additional step because they plan on utilizing advanced facial recognition tools to prevent the same individual from applying for multiple licenses under different names. The Heritage Foundation explains how this process is the best defense against identity thieves. This massive database of facial photographs will likely be used alongside artificial intelligence to improve facial recognition technologies and reduce crime across the nation.

4. Integrity Checks

While much of the heightened security falls on the applicant, some measures will be put into place to ensure the issuers of IDs are trusted employees. States will be expected to conduct extensive eligibility checks for employees assigned to issue IDs. Employees will be subject to both name-based and fingerprint-based background checks. The state is required to analyze the applicant’s employment eligibility and criminal history. States will also need to create and submit security plans to the Department of Homeland Security for approval.

5. Widespread Opposition

The Department of Homeland Security specifically notes on their website that they aren’t trying to build a national database of information. They explain that each jurisdiction will remain in control of its own records. Rather than creating new databases, this Act will only connect and broaden existing ones. Despite this, the Act has been widely opposed since it passed. Maine was the first state to pass a bill opposing the Act in 2007, and at least 17 states had similar laws by 2012. Opponents argue that the mandate violates states rights under the Tenth Amendment.

The implications of this Act are far-reaching, but many states have failed to comply with the extensive requirements of this mandate. With a greater understanding of the five things you need to know about the Real ID Act, it seems obvious that such actions would reduce terrorist activities and the prevalence of issuing fraudulent ID cards.