FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, February 25, 2005

U.S. House Approves Electronic ID Card Standard

Earlier this month, and with relatively little fanfare, the US House of Representatives approved the Real ID Act of 2005, which would set a national standard for issuing identification cards such as driver's licenses. To comply, all cards would have to include a digital photo, anticounterfeiting measures, and "machine-readable technology" that could be either a magnetic strip, barcode or RFID chip. The Department of Homeland Security will draft the specific requirements later.

The bill also requires that state DMVs link their databases to create a searchable national record. States failing to comply could lose highway funds.

Compliant cards would be required for entry into airports, courthouses, national parks and any other facility to which the federal government controls access. Such cards will invariably become the "gold standard" for personal identification, meaning that having a vaild card will be essential for conducting a host of activities, regardless of whether they involve the federal government.

The Bush White House strongly supports the Real ID Act, making it a near certainty that President Bush will sign the act into law once it passes the Senate.

Needless to say, the bill has evoked strong opposition among civil libertarians, gun activists and states-rights advocates. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted numerous resources and arguments against such a national ID initiaitive.

Sources: C|Net, Futurismic