The State of the Real ID Act

When’s the last time you examined your driver’s license? Soon you will notice a small difference: a small orange-yellow star in the upper right-hand corner. This symbolizes compliance with the federal identification standard.

In May of 2005, then-president George W. Bush signed the Real ID Act, part of a multifaceted plan to strengthen homeland security. The act creates and enforces a federal standard for government-issued forms of identification.

That was almost 13 years ago, but many states and territories have not yet implemented the system. 31 have complied and 24 were granted extensions.  All states must comply fully by October of 2020. Several states raised objections, due to concerns about information security and privacy.

So how safe is your data?

The enhanced form of identification will be required for travel and accessing federal buildings. It will also bear a barcode unique to each person. This barcode contains personal information about each person and can be cross-referenced with a database that also contains social security numbers. Each state will maintain its own records, but these records must be available to other states in certain instances. The plan outlines security requirements intended to protect sensitive information, addressing both physical and electronic security concerns.

The discourse has proved to be controversial, but certain positives and negatives have come to light.

Advantages of the Real ID Act:

  • Homeland Security. The act hopes to decrease terroristic threats and incidents on American soil.
  • Preventing Identity Theft. Identity thieves may target licenses from states with weak security policies. Increased security features on identification cards will make them more difficult to forge. Additionally, the encryption of information in the form of a bar code leaves little room for error in identification procedures.
  • Unified Jurisdiction. The sharing of information among states will make it easier to protect citizens across state lines.
  • Protect DMV Customers from Having Their Information Sold. In certain states, the DMV can sell their client list to marketers. The Real ID act would create a federal regulation prohibiting this practice.

Disadvantages of the Real ID Act:

  • Privacy Concerns. The sharing of sensitive information among states raises fears of security breaches. Additionally, anyone who owns a specific type of scanner can read the barcode and gain access to this data.
  • Targeting Undocumented Immigrants. Certain documents, such as social security cards and birth certificates are required to obtain a Real ID. Individuals who were not born in this country may be unable to present these documents.
  • Inconsistency. Individuals in non-compliant states/territories may find it difficult to travel or access government facilities.
  • Cost. The high cost of implementation has deterred several states.

At Extract, privacy is of the utmost concern, which is why we keep data behind your firewall, redact information available to the public, and employ top talent to keep information safe.  If you’d like to learn more about how we do this, please contact us today to ask us any questions you have or schedule a demo of our software.

About the Author: Claire Means

Claire is a Database Development Specialist at Extract Systems. She started at the company as a document verifier, which gives her a unique understanding of the redaction software. Her attention to detail and high rate of accuracy prove her dedication to Extract’s success. Claire holds a certificate in Web Design from Madison College and her special interests include web analytics and search engine optimization.