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Four States Pledge to Enhance Driver's License Security

December 11, 2007

WASHINGTON – Arizona joined Washington, Vermont, and New York recently signing an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enhance the security of its driver’s licenses in compliance with the impending Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), according to the Web site http://www.eweek.com.

A majority of additional states are rebelling against a closely related license overhaul mandate, The Real ID Act.

WHTI requires U.S., Canadian, Mexican, and Bermuda citizens traveling between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean or Bermuda by land or sea — including ferries — to present a valid U.S. passport.

The Real ID Act, on the other hand, requires states to overhaul their driver’s license systems to make it harder for terrorists to obtain licenses. The technology specifications include the implementation of machine-readable technology and a database that holds citizen data, which must be connected to other state databases and to a federal database.

While DHS had been leaning toward mandating RFID as a machine readable technology, a backlash from consumers and states concerned about privacy and security risks with RFID led DHS to suggest states utilize 2D barcode technology instead.

It’s not clear if WHTI mandates the use of RFID, but both New York and the state of Washington are heading that way, according to www.eweek.com.

DHS has set a summer 2008 deadline for states to comply with WHTI, though the 2008 deadline to comply with Real ID has been extended. DHS is expected to release the final Real ID regulations by year’s end or early in 2008.

By February 2007, 38 states had joined a coalition against Real ID, promising to rebel against the federal mandate through legislation in their own states.

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