Traveling by air within the US in 2016? You may need to show more than a driver's license. That's because the feds are threatening to finally enforce a 10-year-old law requiring states to have higher standards when issuing those licenses, the New York Times reports. Called the Real ID Act, it requires states to demand immigration status, a Social Security number, and documents proving identity when granting a driver's license. "Machine-readable" technology like a magnetic strip containing your personal information must also be on the license. Some states are vehemently opposed, but one way the feds can enforce Real ID is by making sure airport screeners only accept licenses that meet federal standards.
A big issue is the magnetic strip, which would eventually allow all states—and maybe the federal government—access to your private data. Passed after 9/11, Real ID is said to boost national security while reducing fraud and identity theft, but critics see government intrusion and hacker-vulnerable databases. "This is a game of intimidation being played out between Congress and the federal government and state governments, with ordinary citizens being squeezed in the middle," says a privacy advocate. Most states have made enough progress to get certified or have an extension, but Washington, Minnesota, and New Mexico are on the outs. As the Santa Fe New Mexican puts it, "Yes, get a passport; Real ID is coming."