Legislation could impede Real ID

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has announced she is introducing legislation to delay the May 2008 implementation deadline of the Real ID Act.

As resistance grows in state legislatures to the costs of implementing the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has announced she is introducing legislation to delay the May 2008 implementation deadline.

Real ID establishes a de facto national ID by setting federal standards for driver's licenses and identification cards. It mandates that states maintain accessible databases of documents used to establish identity, but it does not include provisions for securing the data or controlling how the data on the card is used, nor does it include any federal funding for the states to make the change.

Collins' legislation would set "a more reasonable time frame" for states' compliance with the new standard. It also would require the Homeland Security Department to consider states' concerns and challenges in meeting the standard.

"As the 9-11 Commission report pointed out, the system for issuing identification cards is flawed," Collins said in a statement. "[We] need to tighten security in this regard. ? But I am fully aware that the costs of complying with Real ID are enormous and overly burdensome to states, including Maine."

Collins made the announcement following a meeting on Capitol Hill today with Maine's secretary of state, Matthew Dunlap. The Maine Legislature was the first to pass a resolution opposing Real ID because the state does not have the ability or resources to meet the current deadline. More than a dozen other states also have passed legislation or are considering measures to oppose implementation of the federal standard. While the cost of implementing this "unfunded mandate" is a major concern, civil liberties and immigration advocates also have issues with the law.

Collins' new legislation also would create a committee of federal and state officials, privacy advocates and other interested parties to review proposed regulations and suggest modifications, and require DHS to take these concerns into account.

Patience Wait is a staff writer for Washington Technology's affiliate publication, Government Computer News.