The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a new report, “Driver’s License Security: Federal Leadership Needed to Address Remaining Vulnerabilities.”
The authors note that many states have made solid progress in reducing identity fraud in their states, but there are still vulnerabilities created by cross-state license fraud.
States are currently not very good at determining whether state licenses or birth certificates issued in other states are authentic. To fix this problem, GAO recommends that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) work with state, federal and other partners to address cross-state license and birth certificate fraud. Additionally, GAO notes that DHS is very late in providing states with guidance on how to fully comply with the REAL ID Act requirements that go into effect in January 2013.
Whether used for purchasing alcohol or for exercising the right to vote or for making sure that terrorists don’t go undetected in our country, a secure identification system is critical to America’s foundational belief in the rule of law. Americans rightfully push back at attempts to create a national identification system. That makes it all the more vital that a state-based verification system be created with the lowest error rate as possible. Given the technological advances of the last decade, there is no reason such a system couldn’t be in place soon.
In order for such a system to work, all 50 states and the District of Columbia must cut down on fraudulent license trafficking and birth certificate usage. Any identification system is inherently subject to the vulnerabilities possessed by the weakest link in the system. It is past time to get this 9/11 recommendation off the list of remaining “to dos.”