Real ID Act Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1675 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Terrorism

¶ … REAL ID Act has created great controversy in the past years since it was designed because it generated debates about whether or not it decreases the degree of freedom for Americans, establishing a surveillance society. The Real ID Act (RIDA) was created after September 11 as a governmental measure for preventing future terrorist attacks. The necessity for establishing the Real ID Act came after the discovery that the terrorists that took part in the 9/11 attacks obtained valid driver's licenses and ID cards. The government reacted against the possibility for other terrorists operating in the United States to obtain valid ID cards and driver's license by creating the Real ID Act, which for the first time requires a set of minimum federal standards for authenticating and securing driver's licenses (Gaur, Baker, Gioia).

The debate around the Real ID Act is related to the fact that the Act promotes more security measures that restrain American citizens and requires extensive costs. Although supporters argue that the Act, along with other security measures promoted after 9/11, offers greater security for U.S. citizens by better controlling immigrants and eventual terrorists, many argue that the Act is extremely expensive and that it is another measure designed to insure greater governmental control over individual freedom (Florence, 2006).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Real ID Act Assignment

The RIDA was passed by Congress and it was signed by President Bush in May, 2005. It will become effective in May 2008, when states will have to issue ID cards and driver's licenses compliant with the new regulations of the RIDA. The Real ID Act was passed as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief Act (the Real ID Act, 2006). It is therefore one of the measures taken by the American government in the war against terrorism and a safety measure at home. Because of the great debate that was generated after the passing of the Real ID Act, on March 2, 2007 it was announced that the date of implementation of the Act will be postponed, coming into effect in December 2009, instead of May 2008.

The Real ID Act will create a national standard for ID cards and driver's licenses and all states will have to issue these cards according to the national standard, comparing to the actual situation when each state has its own legislation regarding driver's licenses and ID cards. In order to meet the requirements set at the national level, states will have to change their legislation, regulation and practices and this requires extensive work from state governments as well as a lot of expenditure.

Currently, each state issues driver's licenses and ID cards according to its own set of norms and states also set the rules for what data is on the cards and what documents must be provided in order to be issued a driver's license or an ID card. According to the Real ID Act, all states will issue identification cards according to the same national norms. The database for driver's license and ID cardholders will also become national, instead of state database as it currently is. The main argument behind these changes is that by having access to a national database and by having national ID cards and driver's licenses, a new set of security rules can be applied at the national level. First of all, the federal government can have access to a national database for ID card and driver's license owners, which will drastically improve its access to the needed data. Second of all, new security requirements can be implemented as the new norms will require more information written on the cards which will become mandatory for all cards, regardless of the state that issued them. However, the existing cards can still be used, but they will not be sufficient if checked by federal authorities. This drastically limits the use of the state issued cards according to the old norms and the owners of these cards will be subject to further checking or they will not be able to access certain services, such as those of financial institutions.

The standards set by the Real ID Act refer to the data that must be on the license or ID card, the documentation that is needed for issuing the cards, as well as the way in which states share their database. Requiring further documentation for issuing a driver's license or an ID card can prevent situations like that on 9/11, when terrorists actually managed to obtain valid ID cards and driver's licenses. It is particularly for such reasons that the Real ID Act is a matter of national security. Increasing the necessary documentation for obtaining a valid ID or driver's license will make it more difficult for these cards to be faked or for illegal immigrants to obtain ID cards. According to the Real ID Act in order to obtain identification cards, the solicitant must provide the following documentation: an ID which includes full legal name and birth date, documentation of birth date, documentation of Social Security number, of legal status, as well as documentation showing name and principal residence address (Documentation provisions of the Real ID Act). Besides the extended documentation required for being issued an ID card or driver's license, the motor vehicle database of each state must be shared so that governmental official of another state can have access to the data from the driver's license, as well as to the driver's history.

Despite the good intentions according to which the Real ID Act was created and passed, it generated great controversy. The main problem of the Act is that it requires an extremely large amount of funding in order to implement all the requirements at the national level. In 2005, the estimated costs for all 50 states were of around $100 million for the next five years. Further estimates showed that the costs will be a lot higher and finally the report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association, and the American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators estimated the costs over five years at $11.1 billion (Gaur, Baker, Gioia). Clearly, the extensive costs of implementing the Real ID Act represent a very important part of arguing against the program. Implementing RIDA nation wide requires extra funding which will be paid by every American citizen as the cost for being issued a driver's license or an ID card will increase significantly.

There are several reasons for which it is unlikely that RIDA will be implemented even in 2009. Besides the opposition and controversy generated by the Act, there are other problems that will most likely block the project from being implemented. The most important reason is the lack of funding since the program requires extremely high costs. Besides, the infrastructure must be changed and all the changes in the infrastructure and in legislation require time and so these administrative changes might not be made in time. The personnel must be trained and security improvements must be made so that access to the national database would be secured considering that according to the new regulations, it will contain private data such as Social Security numbers and addresses. Another problem that is posed is that it will be practically impossible to re-enroll all cardholders.

Enforcing the Real ID Act will eventually prove to be a real bureaucratic nightmare considering the amount of work that must be made to replace all existing cards. Besides, considering the creation of a national database and the documentation required for being issued a card, cardholders would be even more exposed to identity theft and their privacy can be threatened. The Real ID Act is regarded by many lawmakers as another one of the methods used by the American government to have greater control over individual… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Real ID Act" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Real ID Act.  (2007, December 4).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Real ID Act."  4 December 2007.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Real ID Act."  December 4, 2007.  Accessed September 26, 2021.