Friday, August 17, 2007

What is this country coming too?

August 16, 2007 (CNN) -- Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year if they live in one of the states defying the federal Real ID Act.

The act, signed in 2005 as part of an emergency military spending and tsunami relief bill, aims to weave driver's licenses and state ID cards into a sort of national identification system by May 2008. The law sets baseline criteria for how driver's licenses will be issued and what information they must contain.

The Department of Homeland Security insists Real ID is an essential weapon in the war on terror, but privacy and civil liberties watchdogs are calling the initiative an overly intrusive measure that smacks of Big Brother.

More than half the nation's state legislatures have passed or proposed legislation denouncing the plan, and some have penned bills expressly forbidding compliance.

Several states have begun making arrangements for the new requirements -- four have passed legislation applauding the measure -- but even they may have trouble meeting the act's deadline.

The cards would be mandatory for all "federal purposes," which include boarding an airplane or walking into a federal building, nuclear facility or national park, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the National Conference of State Legislatures last week. Citizens in states that don't comply with the new rules will have to use passports for federal purposes.


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