If you're from 1 of these 4 states and plan to fly in 2016, Homeland Security has a memo for you.
Heads up to travelers from New York, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Minnesota — and also American Samoa.
We may all get why airport security is important. But it's safe to say no one enjoys it.
What's to like about lines, partially disrobing, radiation pods, and the occasional invasion of your personal space?
In Psychology Today, Jack Schafer, a former behaviorial analyst for the FBI, posits a theory on our common tiffs with the TSA:
"Americans are used to unrestricted freedom. Any loss of freedom causes frustration. Airport security restricts our liberty. We cannot walk directly to the gate. We cannot possess more than three ounces of liquids or gels. We cannot carry utility tools or other sharp objects. In addition to restrictions, mandates force us to take off our shoes, subject ourselves to invasive personal searches, and luggage examinations at will."
The Department of Homeland Security is making the hassle a little heavier for freedom-loving fliers from four states.
Make that four states and one U.S. territory. Travelers from Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, New Hampshire, and American Samoa may soon be unable to board domestic flights with a standard driver's license from their departments of motor vehicles.
Yes, domestic flights.
Once the rule goes into effect, if the affected states haven't drank their DHS-flavored Kool-Aid, travelers from those states will need a passport, enhanced driver's license, or other second approved form of ID to catch flights within the U.S.
This is the fourth phase of a nearly decade-long delay in enforcement of the REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in 2005 to "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses."
DHS says the new restriction is scheduled to take effect "no sooner than 2016," which is a vague way of saying maybe next year, maybe a few years down the road, as Mashable's Jessica Plautz notes.
How big of a deal is this?
On the surface, it doesn't seem terribly urgent. Between the absence of an actual deadline and the equally vague promise of "ample advanced notice," there's no need to bum-rush your passport offices or DMVs.
At the same time, only 38% of Americans hold valid passports, which means this could affect millions of people. So if you're familiar with the DMV, you might be doing yourself a favor by getting ahead of the game.
Is fighting the hassle worth the hassle?
In other words, do these states have legitimate reasons to refuse REAL ID?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo thought his state was in compliance with the act because they offer the option of an enhanced driver's license, which apparently isn't enough. But the state does seem to be falling in line, one extension request at a time.
There are, of course, holdouts on REAL ID. The debate has spawned unlikely alliances in Louisiana, where the Tea Party and other states' rights lobbies have found common ground with the American Civil Liberties Union:
"REAL ID creates a national ID card that has nothing to do with the ability to drive and everything to do with government snooping on innocent people. We don't need that, and never have. If it were so essential to national security, it would have been enforced years ago." — Marjorie Esman, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the ACLU
Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a 2014 bill to implement REAL ID, calling the policy "unnecessary federal oversight of our driver's licenses." For now, he's pinning his hopes on an eternal waiver of responsibility from the DHS. (Good luck with that, bro.)
In Minnesota, legislators are hung up on both the cost of the policy and federal collection of personal data. State Sen. Scott Dibble went on the record with a weaker brand of skepticism:
"There was real concern over whether we make ourselves more or less safe if we become part of a large, national ID registry system. ... I continue to have all the concerns I had back then. I just don't know if we should be playing chicken like this with the feds at this point."
The National Association of Airline Passengers is not thrilled about REAL ID, either. Executive director Douglas Kidd says he doesn't agree with the added costs to passengers and the lack of evidence that the REAL ID will make the country safer.
The good news is we still have time to sort it out.
Since the government isn't taking action until a yet-to-be-determined date in 2016, there's a window for state and federal officials to find a compromise.
And perhaps those of you who may end up needing a passport or enhanced license can see the glass as half-full. Maybe it's a good time to plan a trip?