UPDATED! TSA Says It Will Stop Accepting Driver's Licenses From Nine States
Come January 10, travelers from Alaska, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington may be stranded.
UPDATED on 12/30 at 9:45 A.M.: The Department of Homeland Security, which runs the TSA, says it will give at least 120 days notice before implementing REAL ID Act requirements. For more, go here.
The last time we took notice of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), it was to inform you that the unpopular, expensive, and ineffectual outfit had decided it could force travelers on domestic airline flights to go through full-body scanners. Previously, TSA had allowed folks to submit instead to a full-body pat-down.
Now comes even more troubling news. A decade ago, Congress passed The Real ID Act which was supposed to make it easier for law enforcement to share information on driver's licenses issued by the states and territories. Even during a period of heightened fear of terrorism, there was massive and continuing pushback because everyone realized that when the federal government (or any other centralized authority) concentrates information, it just makes it that much easier for it to get hacked or misused (here are 22.1 million examples of the former and one representative example of the latter).
As Boing Boing notes, the feds quelled some of the rebellion by insisting that
compliance by states with the rules would be voluntary.
But they also threatened "consequences" for noncompliance. After a decade of state/fed jousting, the feds appear ready to visit some of those consequences upon the recalcitrant states: Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington (as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands). Previously, these states and territories had been granted exemptions to the Real ID requirements, but they expire on January 10, 2016 (less than two weeks from now), and the DHS has already refused to renew them for Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington and said they wouldn't renew it for other states.
A dozen states actually have laws banning their divisions of motor vehicles from complying with Real ID requirements, which means something's going to have to give in a few weeks' time.
In some states, the reason for lack of compliance isn't incompetence or bungling, but active opposition. Missouri passed a law in 2009 forbidding state officials from implementing the law. The same year, Minnesota lawmakers not only barred implementation of Real ID but prohibited "preliminary measures like negotiations with federal officials related to the requirement," according to a report in last week's Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Some state lawmakers opposed Real ID because of privacy concerns, while others denounced the law as an "unfunded mandate" requiring states to change their licensing practices without providing any money to implement the changes.
It looks like 2016 is going to get off to a great start! Pro tip: If you're flying domestically, better pack your passport just in case (assuming those are still valid).
Below is Reason TV's playlist of TSA-themed videos. Laugh til you cry. Or get mauled by Bart, the cute TSA explosives-detection pooch pictured above (hover your cursor ove the image to get the lowdown on why he ended up chewing on Santa rather than a toothpaste tube filled with plastique).