Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Your Papers, Please. No, Not Those ... Better Ones.

Well, as if I didn't have enough other things to worry about, it now seems that my Virginia drivers license will soon no longer considered acceptable as identification according to the federal "Real ID" guidelines. Sigh.

For the benefit of my readers who live in other countries, the United States does not have any sort of national identification card or internal passport. Because most Americans drive, the driver's license - which is issued by each state, rather than by the federal government - has become the de facto standard form of identification when we need to confirm our identity. As part of the general tightening of national identification requirements after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, Congress passed the "Real ID" guidelines* to mandate improved security of drivers licenses and related personal identification cards (such as cards issued by state motor vehicle authorities which prove ones identity but do not authorize operation of a car). In general, the law says that a Real ID-compliant form of identification must show:

The full legal name of the bearer;
The bearer's signature;
The bearer's gender and date of birth;
A unique identifying number;
The bearer's principal residence address; and,
A front-facing photograph of the bearer.

In addition, Real-ID compliant cards must also contain security features to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document, and must present all data in a common, machine-readable format (such as bar codes or smart card technology).

The law also clamps down on the type of proof of identification required to ... uh ... obtain proof of identification ... before a Real-ID compliant identification card can be issued, the applicant must provide the following:

A photo ID, or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birthdate;
Documentation of the applicant's birth date;
Documentation of the applicant's legal status and Social Security number; and,
Documentation showing the applicant's name and principal residence address.

Yes, Dear Readers, you have to be able to convincingly and legally prove who you are in order to obtain a card that will enable you to convincingly and legally prove who you are.

The change to our Virginia driver's licenses won't affect my ability to travel because I also have a military ID card and a valid US passport, but I feel sorry for all the people who don't have easy access to the type of documentation the law requires.

Welcome to modern America.

Have a good day, whether you can prove your identity or not. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Public Law 109-13, pages 81-86.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

We are in the Twilight Zone, maybe. This is extreme!

Mike said...

Missouri is another state that refuses to bow to the will of the US government. There is talk of becoming compliant but nothing is happening yet. I'm still not sure what's missing from our licenses because all the features seem to be there. Must be a secret security feature that's missing.

Gonzo Dave said...

Arizona is another non-compliant state, but for an extra fee you can get a compliant licence. The one I have says on it "NOT FOR FEDERAL IDENTIFICATION". jeez...

allenwoodhaven said...

New Jersey is going through this too. I think one problem is that they think there is too little security to get some of the needed supporting documents. "Improvements" have been and are ongoing to measure up to the new standards. Getting that initial proof can be daunting. I see difficulties with it at work with clients frequently, and have had my own problems as well. Security is important but so is common sense!