Federal ID Bill Passes, Includes Electronic Component

WASHINGTON

A bill that would require all Americans to obtain federally mandated national identification cards with an electronic component has passed both houses of Congress and now sits on President Bush’s desk. The “Real ID Act” would mandate every U.S. citizen to present the national ID card in order to travel on a domestic airplane flight, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments, or take advantage of most government services.

The act – passed by the Senate May 11 and approved by the House in February – includes a requirement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) apply “machine-readable technology” to the cards. However, the bill isn’t specific on what technology would be used and does not specify RFID or biometric technology. However, most state already apply a magnetic strip to driver licenses with identification information.

The president is expected to sign the bill into law later this month.

The bill leaves the states to actually issue the ID cards, which will likely mean little more than an augmentation to the current drivers license and state ID process. However, the law does say Americans will need an authentic copy of their birth certificate to apply for a new driver’s license or renew an old one.

The law also allows state to not issue the national ID card at all. However, the state would lose federal funds and residents of the state would find it difficult, if not impossible, to travel by airplane out of state or obtain federal government services.

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