Under criticism from states and angry legislators, the White House has moved back a deadline to implement national driver’s license standards that critics say would undermine personal privacy and burden states with a hefty bill, the Los Angeles Times reports. The announcement that states could have an extra 20 months, until the end of 2009, to meet the requirements of the Real ID Act did not ease criticism of the law from conservative activists, privacy advocates, motor vehicle departments, and lawmakers. The widespread resistance to a policy the administration considers an essential weapon in the war on terrorism reflects a shift from the almost total support the administration enjoyed for its national security agenda after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Almost two dozen states are weighing legislation to oppose Real ID, with some governors dismissing it as a “nightmare.” The 2005 law requires new tamper-proof security features on licenses issued only to people who can prove citizenship or legal status. Their personal information would be kept in a database network that would be accessible by motor vehicle departments nationwide. All Americans would be required to renew their licenses by 2013. Those without one would be barred from federal buildings or airplanes unless they could show a passport or some other form of federally approved photo identification. Costs estimates for the plan have ranged from $11 to $14.6 billion. “It’s going to cost money because security does cost money,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.