Last year, when I tried to use my (perfectly legal, thank you) Montana state driver’s license to enter a bar in Washington, DC, the bouncer rejected it on the basis that “no real ID would have bear holograms.” Actually, in the Big Sky state we do—but the guy was on to something: Montana is one of 37 states still defying the Real ID Act of 2005, a Bush-era law intended to fight terrorism by standardizing security requirements for state IDs. The Department of Homeland Security was forced to grant yet another extension last month for states that haven’t complied with the law. But experts say the delay doesn’t mean the Obama administration is backing off the controversial security requirements.
In order to comply with the Real ID Act, states must obtain from you, at minimum, photo identification, your birth certificate (or other date of birth verification), your social security number, documentation of legal status, and proof of your home address. State IDs that don’t comply with these security requirements are supposed to be barred from airports and federal buildings, although DHS hasn’t enforced that yet. More controversially, the law requires that states make this personal information sharable to other states, in a de facto database that could be easily accessed by the federal government. But as Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, explains: “That hasn’t really happened, the database never got built. But the federal government still has the legal tools to access this information.” READ MORE