The federal REAL ID (Identification) Act of 2005 created a national ID card by requiring state IDs to meet federal specifications. Foes of the act argue that it had serious flaws related to privacy, data security and cost. 15 states have passed bipartisan legislation to bar the enactment of Real ID and another 10 have passed resolutions denouncing the act. The federal government has repeatedly extended the date that states must comply, and many experts predict Real ID may never be fully enacted.
What's Happening in Ohio
Despite the slow death of the Real ID concept and the refusal of many other states to comply with its requirements, The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has announced its plan to introduce new “Safe ID” cards by January, 2013.
These cards are designed to be fully compliant with the federal Real ID act. According to the Dayton Daily News, they will cost more, require more documentation to get and take longer to receive, since they will not be given to customers at the BMV, but instead mailed from an “undetermined centralized location.”
Despite the fact that Ohio is currently experiencing serious budget issues, the BMV also told the newspaper they have no estimates on how much more a “Safe ID” will cost to produce or purchase than a traditional ID.
The ACLU has been steadfast in its criticism of Real ID, arguing that it raises serious cost concerns and creates even more serious data security concerns, as the documents required to obtain a Real ID (birth certificate, social security card, etc.) will be stored in a centralized database. This database represents an identity thief’s dream come true and given our government’s history of mismanaging electronics documents, it is unlikely they will be able to adequately protect this information for any length of time.
Theoretically, citizens with non-compliant ID will be unable to board a commercial flight or enter a federal court. In reality, it seems hard to imagine the federal government denying residents of 15 states the right to fly or enter a courthouse. In fact, the government has repeatedly pushed back their compliance deadline, most recently to 2013, mostly because so many states simply refuse to comply.
Read the ACLU briefing paper on how Real ID would impact Ohio.