The United States gets it wrong with Real ID

The Real ID requires personal information that could fall into the hands of hackers.

By Mickie Shaw, Multimedia Editor

If you are planning on flying anywhere in the United States after Oct. 1, 2020, you will be required to bring federally approved identification to board the plane.

Having bought and paid for a plane ticket will not be a pretext to board your flight. One federally approved identification will be a state-issued Real ID driver’s license or identification card. You will still be able to acquire standard IDs, but they will not allow you to board a plane. In the post 9/11 world the Real ID is effectively a federal ID used as an internal passport.

The Real ID Act was passed in 2005 too, “improve security for drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards.” It was recommend in the 9/11 Commission Report. The idea was to prevent terrorists from boarding airliners. Because of right to privacy groups’ lawsuits and objections from states, the act was delayed from being implemented. It is now being enforced and states must comply with the act’s requirements by Oct. 2020. In 2018, 778 million travelers flew domestically. How many of these travelers will be left in the airport lobby if they fail to bring the proper ID?

The federal government will now have a way to track travelers to and from their destinations and restrict residents and citizens movements with this new ID. If you don’t have your “papers” you will not travel to your vacation destination on a commercial airline. What will be next for federal travel approval: trains, buses, freeways, or checkpoints at state borderlines to demand a Real ID be presented? Will we eventually need the federal government’s permission to move from state to state?

You can also toss your personal privacy aside. The Real IDs will allow the federal government to access the list of identification items used to acquire the Real ID. Considering the amount of information needed to apply for a Real ID, some people may not want just anyone accessing their birth certificate, tax return document or naturalization document. Under the act’s federal requirements, states must keep copies of the documents submitted for Real ID applications. With internet hacking – the scourge of the modern age – security for this massive amount of data as well as the personal privacy of its citizens is a concern for states.

Circumstances are very different today than they were 14 years ago in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Terrorist attacks since then have been committed by US citizens or residents. With American right wing and white nationalist terror attacks on the rise, Islamist extremist terror is in decline. A Real ID would have done nothing to stop these killers from committing their crimes or even stopped the 9/11 hijackers because they had passports or visas.

The United States has now joined North Korea and China in implementing a national ID and restricting domestic travel. These other countries even restrict moving to a different location within their country. The war on terror has morphed the United States into a Big Brother nation where personal freedom is slowly being eroded.