What price are you willing to pay for security? Would you cough up more than twice the amount that you pay right now for a driver's license? Well, according to this News.com article, legal citizens of the United States may not have a choice: "Bumpy road for digital drivers' licenses" (http://www.techrepublic.com/2100-3513_11-5892584.html).
The Real ID Act, which was passed by Congress last May, specifies that states fulfill several requirements, including the following:
- States will have to verify all documents presented to support license applications, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, and utility bills, and will be required to link their license databases so they can all be accessed as a single network. Furthermore, a person's license and Social Security card must bear the same name, which must be the real name—not a nickname or shortened version.
- States will be required to verify that a person applying for a license is in the country legally. They will have the option of issuing a separate credential to illegal aliens so that they will still be able to drive.
Hey, at least states have three years to implement the Real ID Act. Oh wait... the Department of Homeland Security hasn't issued regulations for implementing the law, such as the type of biometric information that each card must include, and these regulations aren't expected to be finalized until next summer!
How will this legislation affect you? If opposition groups aren't able to derail the act, it looks like you'll have to pay at least double the current cost of a driver's license, and you'll also be required to provide more identification, including various forms of documentation and possibly fingerprint or retinal scans. Of course, the upswing is that "a secure ID system could save millions in Medicare and Medicaid fraud and combat identity theft."
Perhaps we're getting one step closer to the sci-fi books I read back in high school... a retinal scan before you're allowed to buy cigarettes and six-pack of beer at the local liquor store? It could happen!!
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.