You thought going to the BMV was a pain before, just wait…. because by 2020 if you want to get on a plane you have to have a “Real ID”. Beginning October 1, 2020, the federal government will require your driver license or identification (ID) card to be REAL ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight or enter military bases and most federal facilities.

“Real ID” refers to the Real ID Act passed by Congress in May 2005. The law established uniform security standards each state must adhere to in issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards. Real ID was passed due to the ease with which the 9/11 terrorists were able to obtain multiple state IDs.

Sounds like a good plan right? Well, maybe not.

This plan doesn’t really help with domestic terrorism.  There are all kinds of bad guys already here, legally. And what about places that aren’t airports and federal facilities? As we all know too well, acts of terror can occur anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, just because a plan isn’t perfect doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. And just because its highly likely that some criminals will find a way to make a “fake” Real ID , that alone is no reason to not try to make our country safer.  However, the benefit to our safety must outweigh the infringement on citizens’ privacy rights.

  • This law would seem to hurt national security because it creates yet another “trusted” credential for criminals to exploit

Once implemented, the Real IDs will be used to store more than the current state issued IDs. Birth Certificates, social security numbers, credit history, and other important documents and user information will be stored on each Real ID. It will essentially create a single interlinked database. The law requires that each DMV keep copies of all the birth certificates and other documents you are required to present to obtain the Real ID. Now, if you are an identity thief, you are probably thinking “fantastic!” The rest of us should be more concerned.  The information stored in the database network would be only as secure as the DMV office with the weakest security or least trustworthy staff in the nation. A single breach in the system could compromise the personal information and documents of millions of Americans. Some also argue federal control over state ID’s is unconstitutional and an infringement on states rights.

  • This law is going to hurt some of us more than others

To get one of these Real ID’s you have to produce a bunch of documents that prove who you are. Makes sense right? Well, if the name on your birth certificate does not match the name on your current ID, you have to show a paper trail of why it doesn’t. This will disproportionately impact some people more than others such as women. For example, I have been married, divorced and remarried. I now have to dig out my old marriage certificate (if I even still have it), my divorce decree, and my new marriage certificate. Like women don’t already have enough to do? We area  busy earning 2/3 of what men earn for the same work.  Others will also be impacted because it is very common that the names on many people’s identity documents contain spelling errors, or they are nicknames, or they are different in some other way from the name on their birth certificate. (you can imagine all the variations of Aimee I have seen).  Another example is people with Spanish surnames who’s names were Anglicized over the years or were spelled differently on various documents. ( Its RIVERA not RIVERIA!!!!–Ok, now I am starting to take this law very personally…)

The fact is, people whose documents contain such name-related discrepancies may face difficulties in obtaining a REAL ID–compliant license, even if they have had a license for years, and even when there’s no doubt that they are who they say they are. And the legal name-change process is expensive! It requires applicants pay fees for court filing, newspaper publication, certified copies, and obtaining documents from other states. It also usually requires the applicant to miss a least a day at work to attend court hearings. And don’t even get me started on the potential impacts on voting rights…sigh…

While I am all for trying to keep America safe, it seems the burdens of this Act outweigh the benefits.  This is why our lawmakers need to keep working together to come up with solution that protects our rights to privacy and our civil liberties.

Here is what you need for your Real ID


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