From the Washington Post:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, $4 billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID, which calls for placing more secure licenses in the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano’s Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow.
The rebranding effort follows months of talks with the National Governors Association and poses political risk for Obama as well as Napolitano, a former NGA chairwoman who wants to soothe strained relations with the states without appearing to retreat on a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission. . . .
Eleven states have refused to participate in Real ID despite a Dec. 31 federal deadline.
“The department’s goal is to fix, not repeal” Real ID, allowing all jurisdictions to comply by year’s end, said a DHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity before a formal announcement. . . .
The new plan keeps elements of Real ID, such as requiring a digital photograph, signature and machine-readable features such as a bar code. States also will still need to verify applicants’ identities and legal status by checking federal immigration, Social Security and State Department databases.
But it eliminates demands for new databases — linked through a national data hub — that would allow all states to store and cross-check such information, and a requirement that motor vehicle departments verify birth certificates with originating agencies, a bid to fight identity theft.
Instead, it adds stronger privacy controls and limits such development to a pilot program in Mississippi. DHS would have nine months to write new regulations, and states would have five years to reissue all licenses, with completion expected in 2016.
Supporters saw a slimmer measure as better than nothing. But critics said the changes gut the law, weakening tools to fight fraud and learn whether bad drivers, drug runners or counterfeiters have licenses in more than one state.
The story also notes that “privacy groups” think the changes do not go far enough, and REAL ID should be scrapped.