May 6, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

FAQ: How Real ID will affect you

What's all the fuss with the Real ID Act about?
President Bush is expected to sign an $82 billion military spending bill soon that will, in part, create electronically readable, federally approved ID cards for Americans. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the package--which includes the Real ID Act--on Thursday.

What does that mean for me?
Starting three years from now, if you live or work in the United States, you'll need a federally approved ID card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments, or take advantage of nearly any government service. Practically speaking, your driver's license likely will have to be reissued to meet federal standards.


What's new:
The House of Representatives has approved an $82 billion military spending bill with an attachment that would mandate electronically readable ID cards for Americans. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

Bottom line:
The Real ID Act would establish what amounts to a national identity card. State drivers' licenses and other such documents would have to meet federal ID standards established by the Department of Homeland Security.

More stories on this topic

The Real ID Act hands the Department of Homeland Security the power to set these standards and determine whether state drivers' licenses and other ID cards pass muster. Only ID cards approved by Homeland Security can be accepted "for any official purpose" by the feds.

How will I get one of these new ID cards?
You'll still get one through your state motor vehicle agency, and it will likely take the place of your drivers' license. But the identification process will be more rigorous.

For instance, you'll need to bring a "photo identity document," document your birth date and address, and show that your Social Security number is what you had claimed it to be. U.S. citizens will have to prove that status, and foreigners will have to show a valid visa.

State DMVs will have to verify that these identity documents are legitimate, digitize them and store them permanently. In addition, Social Security numbers must be verified with the Social Security Administration.

What's going to be stored on this ID card?
At a minimum: name, birth date, sex, ID number, a digital photograph, address, and a "common machine-readable technology" that Homeland Security will decide on. The card must also sport "physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes."

Homeland Security is permitted to add additional requirements--such as a fingerprint or retinal scan--on top of those. We won't know for a while what these additional requirements will be.

Why did these ID requirements get attached to an "emergency" military spending bill?
Because it's difficult for politicians to vote against money that will go to the troops in Iraq and tsunami relief. The funds cover ammunition, weapons, tracked combat vehicles, aircraft, troop housing, death benefits, and so on.

The House already approved a standalone version of the Real ID

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Where are your Papers!
Oh my god, they're finally doing it. Technology and fear strike again.
Posted by gfsdfge (130 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting implications...
No more bank accounts for children...
Many will not be able to qualify for driver's
licenses (expecially youths getting driver's
licenses are not likely to be able to produce 4
qualifying forms of identity)...
No more same-day licenses or renewals...
Huge costs = increased taxes / decreased

Hmmm... and what do we gain? As far as I can
tell, forging an identity will be at least as
simple as it was before, and the wide spread
perception that the system is "better" will
probably lead to reduced scrutiny of the

It seems to me that this system would lower
security through to reduced scrutiny, but also
substantially increase public risk because it
permits a malefactor to screen himself to detect
if the identity he's using (even his own) is
being "flagged" for surveillance. Someone that
passess through an identity screen without
incident then knows with a high degree of
certainty to what extent they may operate
without hindrance. It sounds like a great system
to be exploited by terrorists to select
operatives and maximize the chances carrying
whatever mayhem they desire.

This a huge expense and terrible inconvenience
that endangers the general public.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is BS
I am pretty sure this act has not been revised from its earlier
drafts on a few key points.

#1. The federal goverment will be able to control the
employment status of a U.S. citizen and ANYTHING they do,
through this act. For example, you may think your fine, but
guess what. After this free speech will no longer be "free". Say
something some-one does not like, then you may not even be
able to go to a hockey game, let alone the Superbowl (as if many
of us can afford tickets anyway). All someone will have to do to
intimidate ANY U.S. citizen, is press a button.

Wake up people, we are taking this one up the rectum.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
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Welcome to the United Fascist States of America
More proof that the US is nothing but a nation of cowards. This will solve nothing, but now we give up even more liberty that our once great country was founded upon. We will be no more safe, but far less free.

This is a very sad day for Americans and a huge slap to the millions who have fought and died for these freedoms. Hopefully, the court will reverse this immoral and illegal act.

If there is any justice, Bush and his fascist cronies, along with every congressman and senator that voted for this heinous act, will be jailed for treason.
Posted by pcLoadLetter (395 comments )
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Cheaper to Secure Borders
It would be cheaper to just secure the borders between Mexico and Canada. Crack down on ID Theft and Fraud and Illegal visitors. Nah too easy. Seig Heil!!!
Posted by (1 comment )
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Didn't Nazi Germany Start This way?
July 22, 1938: Effective January 1, 1939, all Jews must carry a special identification card.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe its just me.
Posted by (3 comments )
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Despite their best intentions, this will be rife with abuse
It would be easy to cry Big Brother here and parlay the fears from the past four years into a real version of 1984, but that is only the most obvious concern. Our government has already imposed a national ID system of sorts, starting with the Social Security system generations ago, so this is just the next step really. Im less concerned about being hauled out of bed in the middle of the night never to be heard from again than I am of my identity or personal data being abused or manipulated.

Much of this new system is probably modeled off of the CAC (Common Access Card) used by the government for ID of military, federal, and contractor employees. Ive had one (on my second one, and another version is coming soon) for some time now, and use it to identify myself on the computer network I use at work. It also allows me to access my email from anywhere by using a card reader, my PIN, and my network username and password.

This technology is handy because it is instant identification, a source of personal data that proves who you are, but unfortunately is very vulnerable to alteration and abuse. The CAC card currently in use has three forms of data encoding built into it  a magnetic strip, a barcode field, and a memory chip to store electronic certificates. The memory chip contains the most information, but is easily modified with the correct software and CAC reader. Because of this obvious security risk, CAC card usage is not allowed in secure networked environments.

When you think of all of the technology created to prevent copyright infringement, illegal network access, identity theft, and financial thievery  and how quickly it is subverted, the problem becomes plain. The more we rely on technology to aid in our daily lives, the more vulnerable we become to its abuse. How these politicians can overlook that fact is beyond me, but logic and reason is often ignored in knee-jerk reactions to a perceived problem.
Posted by Titos 2 Cents (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Chicken or Egg?
Where do you get four valid, legal IDs, including a picture ID, in order to get this ID? This will be replacing the DMV driver's license/ID. Most native born Americans don't have any photo ID except from the DMV. Most people can get copies of their birth certificate. Name three more IDs most Americans have...
Posted by Jimmu411 (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hmm.. interesting
So in the once-again name of homeland security (The current day term to erode rights of law-abiding citizens) we are going to now all have to register with the government with electronic capable id cards (possible with RFID and Tracking). Isnt that just grand.. when looking at identity theft, it is found that a lot of these big databases are the ones cracked, and guess who provided them in the first place.. oh yeah our governement.. remember those oh so technically advanced people? I seem to remember they just had to drop a million dollar spend program to link all the intellengence agencies together because they just couldnt figure it out..

Aside from all the other previously made statements in the replies to this article.. (and i happen to agree with most of them.. especially the quote from Nazi Germany.. 1938) I have 2 other issues..

Nice to see the support wouldnt be there for this bill if they didnt try to hide it inside a military funding budget item.. (hmm.. sounds like politics as usual here..)

And more interesting for us technology related people.. this is all being done to protect us from terrorists and bad people in the country right? Seems to me Warren Buffett (Looser and anti-american millionaire [http://oh but wait.. didnt he make his billions off the backs of those americans he now insists be laid off for cheaper labor?|http://oh but wait.. didnt he make his billions off the backs of those americans he now insists be laid off for cheaper labor?]) and Bill Gates were just before the US congress trying real hard to get them to remove the limits on foriegn workers so they can come work here. Oh right because of that "lack of available talent in this country" as Bill Gates put it.. at least one senator was smart enough to remind mr gates that technology unemployment in the US is higher than any other unemployement rate here. So maybe he should have phrased that "Lack of available talent willing to work for a bowl of rice and $.50/hr in this country."

Hey guess what.. its not only the terrorists that are hurting this country.. its rich, arrogant, morons like Gates and Buffet who are destroying it.

Just some things to think about.
Posted by (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what's in your wallet?
Bank card, credit card, library card, grocery savings card, social security card, gym membership card, NRA card, parking garage access card, and drivers license all wrapped up into one. Oh yeah, and the government will be able to locate your ass whenever they want. God damn this is a conspiracy theorists wet dream coming true.
Posted by yellowjester (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So Continues the Demise of a Free Country
It looks like we're going to have to give back the Statue of Liberty to France. Does anyone seriously think of the United States as the "Land of Liberty" any more? If so, they're living in the past. Welcome to the United Police States of America.
Posted by steven.randolph (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Supposedly Smart People....
continue to come up with completely assnine solutions.
1.) Something of this magnitude should be put up for debate and public discourse, not hidden in an appropriations bill. (For a war a lot of people are not happy with either - neither here nor there) But as one previous poster stated in his Herman Goering post, the sheep will go where they are herded. Or as one of my favorite movie lines put it "A person is smart, people are dumb, dangerous panicky animals." The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming...

2.) Did they think about the current mess Social Security is in? i.e. ID theft, illegal aliens paying into SS on someone elses number. I read a story recently about a woman, in michigan I think, that had some thirty people paying into SS on her number. It was affecting the benefits she could collect etc. To make matters worse it is not an easy matter for you to find out if there there are multiple people using your number.

The Govt has known about it for a long time but turns a blind eye because it is "free" money to the govt. Not anymore, now they will have to expend time and money straightening it out now.
Oh wait I forgot, we will just grant amnesty to a few million more - hoping they will remember to vote republican in the next election. Re-number everything and start over...

3.)In a bit of pop culture tie-in. I recently read the Star Wars book "Revenge of the Sith" the one coming out in a couple of weeks. The storyline about how the Republic became an Empire almost eerily parallels our current time. Not that Bush would be the emperor, but the eroding of freedoms in the name of security. etc..

Not to alienate anyone but God save us all...
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We Will, We Will Track You
Fast Forward to 2008:

Here Ms. Oad, here is your new ID card. With it we will know when you're in Starbucks. You won't have to even have a debit card, we'll just RFID what you buy and directly debit your account from your ID card.

And when you're at the baseball game, you won't even need a ticket. We'll know exactly what seat you're supposed to be in, and we'll know if you stayed until the bottom of the ninth inning.

Now Ms. Oad, don't worry about a thing. When you're at the hospital, we will know and so will your insurance company and your employer.

Now Ms. Oad, please sing the following, to the tune of the old song by Queen "We Will, We Will Track You."
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A timeless quote, very apt to this story.
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security. -- Benjamin Franklin
Posted by (2 comments )
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Video form the future...?
A few days ago I watched this video, and thought it was unlikely. Today I see this news story, and it seems like this is what will happen....
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This could be a script from "The Twilight Zone"
Having to prove beyound a doubt who you really are (with a trusted authority vouching for you) is frankly its not a BAD thing because it stops identity theft, mis-identification and the billions of dollars its costing us per year in fraud.

Why do you think your credit card rates are so high? Well yes, greed,of course. But they also have to cover their losses.

But the key part of that first phrase was TRUSTED authority.

This sets us up for 'identity theft' at a single source, a single point of failure, and that's NEVER smart.

Its setting us up for surveillance like nothing we've ever seen before (you DO know that ALL of your records, from birth 'till death, are accessible by 'the authorities' now.)

The card will inevitably be more truted than you will. (Nightmare scenarios start here.)

Everything from 'Minority Report' will come true.
Posted by CharlesRovira (97 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does this not sound like something from the Bible?
This seems to sound like the starting of the mark of the beast.
Just weird, very weird!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What Americans Need to Do NOW
I remember reading in my history books about American citizen
uprisings to protect your freedoms from out of control
governments. I think it's time again.

First thing American's should do

1. Write your congressman and senator a two paragraph
origional letter. The first paragraph should be about your
general dislike for national ID and second how this is going to
affect your vote.

2. Call your congressman and senator today now.

3. Become personally involved with any organization who is
against this policy. Encourage them to organize mass protests
and rallies in Washington. Spend of your own time and money to
help them.

4. Tell everyone you know who dislikes this national ID card to
do the same.

I'm not American. You guys need to be worried right now.
Posted by rodnarms (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
born in the USA and regreting it
what worng with the US do i have to move to russia to be free from the goverment
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The media screws up again
Over and above the fact that the government is rapidly consolidating its postion as public enemy number one, we also learn in this article that reporters don't want to do any research for their story.

This article clearly stated the the Supremes have held that police can demand to see ID from law-abiding citizens and then refer to the Hibel v. Nevada case. In Hibel, the Supremes held that a person can be required to identify themselves. However, the Nevada statute did not require that an ID be produced. And the dicta in the opinion seems to indicate that had a particular form of ID been required the ruling may well have been different.

So, while it is true that police may "demand to see ID", they have been entitled to do so for a long time. The requirement to respond would still seem to be only that a verbal statement of name is required.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is really bad precedent for a free nation. Not that I have a problem with the concept of a national ID, just that the government and other entites that would use such an ID are not to be trusted not to abuse it.

Read Heinlein - the way to avoid high-tech surveilance is to go low-tech - in this case, the RFID can generally be defeated by wrapping the chip in aluminum foil or a similar Faraday shield.

So, if I need such an ID to go into a gevernment building, does that mean when the IRS asks me to show up for an audit that I will not be allowed to attend if I don't have such an ID? And that I won't be allowed to enter the courthouse for jury duty, etc.

This isn't all bad ...
I think a little creative civil disobedience is in order.
Posted by JameMadison_1776 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Behold the mark of the beast
Revelations Chapter 13 verses 16-18
Posted by jachamp (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hiding this bill shows how corrupt it and Washington DC are
The fact that this bill is being hidden inside an emergency
spending bill shows:

1. Just how corrupt this leadership is!

2. Just how corrupt this bill is!

Corruption thrives in darkness. This act and the "Patriot Act"
seem to be the very examples of government gone awry. These
are the very types of behavior that Thomas Jefferson warned
folks about.
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what's all the fuss you idiots
Posted by (4 comments )
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Posted by (1 comment )
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Another link in the chains of control
Yes, it sounds like something from the Bible a little, but what it certainly is for is to control people. The government has found over the years little things to control the public. This is another attempt to peer in to peoples lives. When this signs in to law, I will officially become an outlaw.
Posted by (1 comment )
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