In a recent press release (May ’08) DHS announced that it was pursuing development of alternative documents to meet Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) implementation requirements at land and sea ports of entry.
DHS is encouraging individual states to enhance their driver’s licenses and identification documents to satisfy both WHTI requirements and the changes in international land/sea travel document procedures which began on January 31, 2008. These enhanced documents will denote both identity and citizenship, be issued in a secure process, and include technology that facilitates travel.
WHTI stems from a 9/11 Commission recommendation mandated in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The law requires all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, to have a secure, verifiable document that denotes both identity and citizenship for entry into the United States.
DHS has worked to align REAL ID and EDL requirements. EDLs that are developed consistent with the requirements of REAL ID can be used for official purposes such as accessing a Federal facility, boarding Federally-regulated commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants.
Although the goal of enhancing identification security is shared by both programs, there are some distinctions. While the REAL ID requires proof of legal status in the U.S., the state issued EDL will require that the card holder be a U.S. citizen. The EDL will also serve as a limited-use international travel document.
The purpose of REAL ID is to establish minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards to be accepted for official purposes. When presenting a driver’s license for official purposes such as accessing Federal facilities, boarding Federally-regulated commercial aircraft, or entering nuclear power plants, it must be a driver’s license that is compliant with the REAL ID regulation.
In leveraging technologies for border security and facilitation of legitimate global travel, DHS is mindful of privacy concerns, and is committed to adhering to strict privacy standards. As most privacy and security professionals recommend, the vicinity RFID enabled WHTI-compliant documents will incorporate several layers of privacy mitigations.