On May 11, 2012 the United States entered its fourth consecutive year of non-compliance with the Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID regulations. Together with the Obama administration’s pledge not to enforce Real ID regulations and the imposing account of 25 states openly opting out of the program, it appeared REAL ID was dead in the water.
Yet despite this overwhelming opposition, REAL ID seems poised to make a troublesome return in January 2013. REAL ID, a relative of the Next Generation Identification (NGI) initiative, was a federal program that aimed to raise and standardize the security features of driver’s licenses and identification cards, as well as heightening boarder security. At a recent Homeland Security hearing, the new deadline for individual compliance was set at January 15, 2013.
If this deadline is enforced, come January 15, those lacking a passport or federally recognized “REAL ID” could be prohibited from entering federal buildings, airports, or other destinations requiring what the DHS calls “official federal documentation.”
In tandem with the growing biometric database capable of digitally storing and recognizing finger and palm prints, iris scans, and even facial measurements, the REAL ID security parameters raise serious privacy concerns.
Aside from the disturbing notion of the FBI recording and tracking millions of Americans on a daily basis, the personal nature of REAL ID security questions border on the absurd.
Those applying for a passport can expect to see a new “voluntary” questionnaire. Used to supplement an application that is “insufficient or of questionable authenticity,” the survey asks shockingly private questions such as “Were you circumcised?” and “Who was present at your birth?”
As January 15 looms closer, it is likely we can expect to see an increase in these type of intrusive security measures, as the newest federal surveillance system prepares to come online.