One year Out, Security Expert Evaluates Effectiveness of Real ID

Virginia Tech security and terrorism expert Aaron Brantly says the implementation of Real ID is a solid first step in standardizing the identification of citizens within the United States.

“It facilitates compliance across a number of categories and seeks to undermine activities that might result in fraud,” says Brantly.  “Whether the Real ID has any substantive effect on national security is uncertain.”

A Real ID is a form of identification that meets increased security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Travelers will be required to provide either a Real ID or another TSA-approved form of identification in order to fly after October 1, 2020.

“Failing to have Real ID will mean you are unable to fly domestically or enter certain federal facilities,” says Brantly.  “It is clearly difficult for many people to obtain this secure ID. However, once done it is valid for up to 8 years and can be renewed easily. Virginians whose driver’s licenses are outside of the normal state renewal period are required to go in person to the DMV to renew their license as a Real-ID.”

Drivers aren’t required to have a Real ID, and can opt just to get an ordinary driver’s license if they don’t plan to fly or do not have the required documents, such as a Social Security card.

“It is likely that Real ID will make air travel only nominally safer. The number of violations associated with fraudulent IDs at airports is remarkably low based on public reporting of incidents,” said Brantly.  “However, it was found that the 9/11 hijackers all obtained and used fraudulent IDs to gain access to their respective aircraft.”

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