Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    Getting Closer

    From this article, The Real ID Act requires all new driver's licenses to include digital photographs, anti-counterfeiting features and "machine-readable" information verifying a person's identity.
    The cards, which would be issued as current licenses expire, would be required for Americans using airplanes, trains, parks, federal courthouses and other places under federal control."
    Although not a perfect guarantee of security it is a step forward. For those that have argued that the past national election was full of fraud it is something to feel happy about if (hopefully) such an ID is used in order to vote. (I jest, since opponents rely on voters that are felons, illegal aliens, the dead, etc.)
    There are the obvious opponents, like the ACLU and Kennedy et. al. that are against a national identification standard - but I really don't recall any dissent about passports, and that is a very federal ID - photo, magnetic strip with ID information, record of travel, etc.
    Hopefully the next step would be to require any employer to only employ those with proper ID (in otherwords, NO MORE employment for illegal aliens!).

    From a UN email I received this am: Sudan: First UN peacekeepers arrive When 12 Nepalese soldiers and equipment arrived in Sudan this morning, they marked the beginning of the deployment of 10,000 United Nations peacekeepers and hundreds of civilian police officers who will guard the fragile peace in the struggling African country's southern region, where a 21-year civil war claimed 2 million lives. The deployment is expected to be completed by September and will consist of peacekeepers mostly from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Kenya and Zambia.
    Women and children beware - the rapists have arrived!


    Unknown said...

    photo ID for voting is a solution in search of a problem. There is no evidence of any notable attempts to vote under another person's name at the polls. And of course the cheaper, more efficient and more fraudproof way to vote is entirely by mail...

    JustaDog said...

    When I was a child in Illinois I remember going with my mom to the local (designated) voting place. She had to show her drivers license and voter paperwork (whatever it was she got in the mail). Her name and ID was checked followed by her name and addresses being checked off a list. Only after her ID was checked as well as not having voted already was she given a ballot and then she went into the private area to vote.

    There is no evidence of any notable attempts to vote under another person's name... - LOL - surely you're not serious!

    Whymrhymer said...

    Lots of people seem panicked by the idea of a "National ID." I've never really understood that. It sounds like a good idea as long as you can trust the government not to misuse the information.

    That's the next question!

    Pundit said...

    Checking id for voters could be done with a driver's license and comparing to the address shown on the poll sheet. The real id act is just one step closer to the national identity papers that a totalitarian regime likes. It is masquerading under a voter issue because so many Americans have been agitated over illegal immigration. When I registered to vote here in California the last time, I did it on the internet. No Cal Driver license number or social security number was required--it was optional. Also, many people I talked to down here after the elections were surprised to find that although their names were on the poll sheets, no id was checked to verify who they were. This national id thing is not for voting. it has some other purpose.

    Pundit said...

    And to whymrhymer: your comment is correct. Can you trust the government? Of course you can--to do whatever it takes to take advantage of any control over citizens it can. Legal or otherwise, and most often it is otherwise.

    Pundit said...

    The Sudan. 21 years of civil war. Over two million dead, and most likely an equal amount are refugees. Take Chechnya. in only four years of war, hundreds of thousands killed, and an equal number made refugees. Ethinic and religions conflict still continues. Chechnya, not even touched by the press these days, is a Russian province. Russian soldiers lining up unarmed civilians, killing them, looting and stealing from the homes of the deceased. Officers not in control. High percentage of what Russians call KONTRACTNIKI--contract soldiers. This was the great Russian democracy that was supposed to have emerged in 1991 when all the leftist were so thrilled over the peace dividend, and now we can downsize our military. And this does not take into consideration Dagestan, Tajikistan, Armenia, and several other central asian republics where these difficulties occur. Sudan is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Dennis Bailey said...

    Since Barry Steinhardt of the ACLU chose not to debate me on ID cards at an upcoming event at the Pacific Research Institute which was to be sponsored by TRUSTe, I think I'll take the opportunity to debate his comments recently posted at on the REAL ID Act.

    His comments in italics:

    * *The "Real ID" Act is indeed a real (national) ID.* Although individual states' driver's licenses may continue to exhibit cosmetic differences, they will now contain a standardized set of information collected by all 50 states, which means that underneath each state's pretty designs they are really a single standardized national card - backed up not only by biometrics, but also by a standardized "machine-readable zone" and by a national database of ID information. Local DMV offices may continue to appear to be state offices, but they will now become agents acting on behalf of the federal government, charged with issuing a national identity document without which one will be unable to function in America.

    The fact of the matter is that one cannot function in America without today's current driver's license. Standardization doesn't change that. In fact, what is so beneficial about preventing standardization? If reasonable people can agree that a driver's license must be verified before boarding a plane or entering a government building, why would we want to have fifty different versions? Would you apply this logic to any other segment of the economy? What if each GM plant decided to produce cars in a distinctive manner? Their bond rating would be much worse than the junk status it was just given. The idea of keeping government inefficient as a way to protect civil liberties is outdated.

    * *National database creates powerful tracking tool.* Real ID requires the states to link their databases together for the mutual sharing of data from these IDs. This is, in effect, a single seamless national database, available to all the states and to the federal government. (The fact that the database is a distributed one, maintained on interconnected servers in the separate states, makes no difference.)* *

    The goal here is to prevent someone such as a pedophile, a parent avoiding child support, a criminal on the run, or a terrorist from getting a license in one state and then changing identities by turning to another state. If states can't query each other's databases, how will this be prevented? Does Barry have a solution he's willing to offer. And this idea about tracking - where is the evidence? We've seen that the Patriot Act has given the government access to databases from companies like ChoicePoint with more data than a Motor Vehicle Department database could ever have, yet there is no evidence that the government is involved in tracking U.S. citizens. The ACLU's own recently released report on surveillance could only list a few cases of citizens who may have had their rights violated through the Patriot Act. All they could dig up was some poor treatment of illegal immigrants and foreign visitors.

    * *National database creates security risks.* The creation of a single interlinked database creates a one-stop shop for identity thieves and terrorists who want to assume an American's identity. The security problems with creating concentrated databases has recently been demonstrated by the rampant number of data breaches in recent months in which information held by commercial database companies has fallen into the hands of identity thieves or others. The government's record at information security is little better and that is especially true at state Motor Vehicle Departments that have routinely been the targets of both insider and outsider fraud and just plain larceny.

    Whether the data are in 50 databases or a single database, identity thieves are going to get the information as we've seen with all the corporate data breaches. The question is what do you allow the thieves to do with the information when they get it? In the current system, we allow them to very easily transfer it to a paper-based identity card. With tomorrow's more tamper-proof card, it will be much harder to duplicate a driver's license, thus raising the bar for identity thieves - not eliminating them but reducing the number.

    * *The "machine-readable zone" paves the way for private-sector piggybacking.* Our new IDs will have to make their data available through a "common machine-readable technology." That will make it easy for anybody in private industry to snap up the data on these IDs. Bars swiping licenses to collect personal data on customers will be just the tip of the iceberg as every retailer in America learns to grab that data and sell it to Choicepoint for a dime. It won't matter whether the states and federal government protect the data - it will be harvested by the private sector, which will keep it in a parallel database not subject even to the limited privacy rules in effect for the government.

    I'm not sure what Barry is talking about here. If he took a look at the bill, he'd see the following information is required to be collected:

    (1) The person's full legal name.
    (2) The person's date of birth.
    (3) The person's gender.
    (4) The person's driver's license or identification card number.
    (5) A digital photograph of the person.
    (6) The person's address of principle residence.
    (7) The person's signature.
    (8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
    (9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.

    Name, birthdate, address and gender represent a grain of sand in the beach of currently available information on us. This argument doesn't hold its weight in water.

    * *This national ID card will make observation of citizens easy but won't do much about terrorism.* The fact is, identity-based security is not an effective way to stop terrorism. ID documents do not reveal anything about evil intent - and even if they did, determined terrorists will always be able to obtain fraudulent documents (either counterfeit or real documents bought from corrupt officials).

    Barry is a pyromaniac running around in a field of strawmen with his arguments. The goal of a secure ID is not reveal evil intent. That is what law enforcement and intelligence analysts are supposed to do. The goal of a secure ID is to make sure that once someone's evil intent is discerned, the individual can be identified at gates like aiport security before they act on it.

    * *Negotiated rulemaking.* Among the any unfortunate effects of this legislation is that it pre-empts another process for considering standardized driver's licenses that was far superior. That process (set in motion by the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004) included a "negotiated rulemaking" among interested parties - including the states and civil liberties groups - to create standards. Instead, the worst form of rules is being imposed, with the details to be worked out by security officials at DHS instead of through balanced negotiations among affected parties.

    It's my understanding that negotiated rulemaking will work out many of the details within the text of the REAL ID Act. I just attended the Identity Management Task Group of the ITAA and they have a member on the negotiated rulemaking committee that is being managed by DoT. Here is an article on the effort.

    * *"Your papers, please."* In the days after 9/11, President Bush and others proclaimed that we must not let the terrorists change American life. It is now clear that - despite its lack of effectiveness against actual terrorism - we have allowed our security agencies push us into making a deep, far-reaching change to the character of American life.

    When all else fails turn to fear tactics represented by the worn out platitude, "Your papers, please," or "Big Brother" or "National ID." I think the lack of real dissent against the REAL ID Act shows that truth will eventually triumph over fear. More significantly, this represents a damaging blow to the civil liberty crowd which has invested years and significant resources into fighting against standardized identification. For those of us who believe in greater openness, this is a positive sign.

    I'll post this to Politechbot and we'll see if that group of likeminded individuals is willing to tolerate some diversity of opinion.