Say Hello to Your New National ID Card


I've maintained for some time that Congress was unlikely to create a national ID card and instead force standards upon the states that created a de facto national ID card using driver's licenses. Last week's bill overhauling national intelligence did just that:

The intelligence bill, which stemmed from recommendations of the independent commission that investigated the 9-11 attacks, requires the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security to establish minimum identification standards for drivers' licenses and other state-issued identification cards. If a state's license does not meet the standards in two years, federal agencies will not be allowed accept it as valid identification for such purposes as boarding airplanes and many other common transactions of daily life.

The bill also sets a two-year deadline for states to conform with minimum standards for birth certificates. Those will be set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The intelligence bill would require that each license include a digital photograph of the holder as well as the holder's full name, date of birth, gender and drivers' license or personal identification number. While some states already meet all these requirements, others do not. States also will be required to meet stiffer standards for the documentation they accept as proof of identity from license applicants, for the processes by which they verify those documents and for the means by which licenses are issued.

There would have been a huge uproar if Congress had passed a national ID card program. This will sail by with nary a whimper.