Real-ID: Costs and Benefits

The argument was so obvious it hardly needed repeating. Some thought we would all be safer -- ­from terrorism, from crime, even from inconvenience -- ­if we had a better ID card. A good, hard-to-forge national ID is a no-brainer (or so the argument goes), and it’s ridiculous that a modern country like the United States doesn’t have one.

Still, most Americans have been and continue to be opposed to a national ID card. Even just after 9/11, polls showed a bare majority (51%) in favor -- ­and that quickly became a minority opinion again. As such, both political parties came out against the card, which meant that the only way it could become law was to sneak it through.

Republican Cong. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin did just that. In February 2005, he attached the Real ID Act to a defense appropriations bill. No one was willing to risk not supporting the troops by holding up the bill, and it became law. No hearings. No floor debate. With nary a whisper, the United States had a national ID.

By forcing all states to conform to common and more stringent rules for issuing driver’s licenses, the Real ID Act turns these licenses into a de facto national ID. It’s a massive, unfunded mandate imposed on the states, and -- ­naturally -- ­the states have resisted. The detailed rules and timetables are still being worked out by the Department of Homeland Security, and it’s the details that will determine exactly how expensive and onerous the program actually is.

It is against this backdrop that the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators together tried to estimate the cost of this initiative. "The Real ID Act: National Impact Analysis" is a methodical and detailed report, and everything after the executive summary is likely to bore anyone but the most dedicated bean counters. But rigor is important because states want to use this document to influence both the technical details and timetable of Real ID. The estimates are conservative, leaving no room for problems, delays, or unforeseen costs, and yet the total cost is $11 billion over the first five years of the program.

If anything, it’s surprisingly cheap: Only $37 each for an estimated 295 million people who would get a new ID under this program. But it’s still an enormous amount of money. The question to ask is, of course: Is the security benefit we all get worth the $11 billion price tag? We have a cost estimate; all we need now is a security estimate.

I’m going to take a crack at it.

When most people think of ID cards, they think of a small plastic card with their name and photograph. This isn’t wrong, but it’s only a small piece of any ID program. What starts out as a seemingly simple security device -- ­a card that binds a photograph with a name -- ­rapidly becomes a complex security system.

It doesn’t really matter how well a Real ID works when used by the hundreds of millions of honest people who would carry it. What matters is how the system might fail when used by someone intent on subverting that system: how it fails naturally, how it can be made to fail, and how failures might be exploited.

The first problem is the card itself. No matter how unforgeable we make it, it will be forged. We can raise the price of forgery, but we can’t make it impossible. Real IDs will be forged.

Even worse, people will get legitimate cards in fraudulent names. Two of the 9/11 terrorists had valid Virginia driver’s licenses in fake names. And even if we could guarantee that everyone who issued national ID cards couldn’t be bribed, cards are issued based on other identity documents -- ­all of which are easier to forge.

And we can’t assume that everyone will always have a Real ID. Currently about 20% of all identity documents are lost per year. An entirely separate security system would have to be developed for people who lost their card, a system that itself would be susceptible to abuse.

Additionally, any ID system involves people: people who regularly make mistakes. We’ve all heard stories of bartenders falling for obviously fake IDs, or sloppy ID checks at airports and government buildings. It’s not simply a matter of training; checking IDs is a mind-numbingly boring task, one that is guaranteed to have failures. Biometrics such as thumbprints could help, but bring with them their own set of exploitable failure modes.

All of these problems demonstrate that identification checks based on Real ID won’t be nearly as secure as we might hope. But the main problem with any strong identification system is that it requires the existence of a database. In this case, it would have to be 50 linked databases of private and sensitive information on every American -- ­one widely and instantaneously accessible from airline check-in stations, police cars, schools, and so on.

The security risks of this database are enormous. It would be a kludge of existing databases that are incompatible, full of erroneous data, and unreliable. Computer scientists don’t know how to keep a database of this magnitude secure, whether from outside hackers or the thousands of insiders authorized to access it.

But even if we could solve all these problems, and within the putative $11 billion budget, we still wouldn’t be getting very much security. A reliance on ID cards is based on a dangerous security myth, that if only we knew who everyone was, we could pick the bad guys out of the crowd.

In an ideal world, what we would want is some kind of ID that denoted intention. We'd want all terrorists to carry a card that said “evildoer�? and everyone else to carry a card that said “honest person who won't try to hijack or blow up anything.�? Then security would be easy. We could just look at people’s IDs, and, if they were evildoers, we wouldn’t let them on the airplane or into the building.

This is, of course, ridiculous; so we rely on identity as a substitute. In theory, if we know who you are, and if we have enough information about you, we can somehow predict whether you’re likely to be an evildoer. But that’s almost as ridiculous.

Even worse, as soon as you divide people into two categories -- ­more trusted and less trusted people -- ­you create a third, and very dangerous, category: untrustworthy people whom we have no reason to mistrust. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; the Washington, DC, snipers; the London subway bombers; and many of the 9/11 terrorists had no previous links to terrorism. Evildoers can also steal the identity -- ­and profile -- ­of an honest person. Profiling can result in less security by giving certain people an easy way to skirt security.

There’s another, even more dangerous, failure mode for these systems: honest people who fit the evildoer profile. Because evildoers are so rare, almost everyone who fits the profile will turn out to be a false alarm. Think of all the problems with the government’s no-fly list. That list, which is what Real IDs will be checked against, not only wastes investigative resources that might be better spent elsewhere, but it also causes grave harm to those innocents who fit the profile.

Enough of terrorism; what about more mundane concerns like identity theft? Perversely, a hard-to-forge ID card can actually increase the risk of identity theft. A single ubiquitous ID card will be trusted more and used in more applications. Therefore, someone who does manage to forge one -- ­or get one issued in someone else’s name -- ­can commit much more fraud with it. A centralized ID system is a far greater security risk than a decentralized one with various organizations issuing ID cards according to their own rules for their own purposes.

Security is always a trade-off; it must be balanced with the cost. We all do this intuitively. Few of us walk around wearing bulletproof vests. It’s not because they’re ineffective, it’s because for most of us the trade-off isn’t worth it. It’s not worth the cost, the inconvenience, or the loss of fashion sense. If we were living in a war-torn country like Iraq, we might make a different trade-off.

Real ID is another lousy security trade-off. It’ll cost the United States at least $11 billion, and we won’t get much security in return. The report suggests a variety of measures designed to ease the financial burden on the states: extend compliance deadlines, allow manual verification systems, and so on. But what it doesn’t suggest is the simple change that would do the most good: scrap the Real ID program altogether. For the price, we’re not getting anywhere near the security we should.

This essay will appear in the March/April issue of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

EDITED TO ADD (1/30): There's REAL-ID news this week. Maine became the first state to reject REAL-ID. This means that a Maine state driver's license will not be recognized as valid for federal purposes, although I'm sure the Feds will back down over this. And other states will follow:

"As Maine goes, so goes the nation," said Charlie Mitchell, director of the ACLU State Legislative Department. "Already bills have been filed in Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Georgia and Washington, which would follow Maine's lead in saying no to Real ID, with many mores states on the verge of similar action. Across the nation, local lawmakers are rejecting the federal government's demand that they curtail their constituents' privacy through this giant unfunded boondoggle."

More info on REAL-ID here.

EDITED TO ADD (1/31): More information on Montana. My guess is that Montana will become the second state ro reject REAL-ID, and New Mexico will be the third.

Posted on January 30, 2007 at 6:33 AM • 92 Comments

Comments

ZwackJanuary 30, 2007 7:27 AM

As an example of the failures associated with ID systems here is a true story my mother told me.

My mother is a middle class white woman and at the time that this happened she was middle aged.

She was in London, UK, and was on a bus. She was not paying much attention to what was happening around her, when a ticket inspector got on. She reached into her purse and pulled out what she thought was her weekly pass. The inspector took one look at it and passed on to the next person. At no point did she get harassed, or questioned.

It was only when she was putting it away that she looked at her "bus pass" and realised that she had inadvertently grabbed a travel packet of aspirin by mistake. She did have a pass, but I wonder how many people travel for free simply by carrying pain killers.

Z.

UNTERJanuary 30, 2007 8:14 AM

My problem with these under-legislated policies is the lack of public discussion. If we institute a national ID system, it should be public and aboveboard, with a serious conversation regarding database protection, data lifetime, and legal uses. By pushing it under the table, I fear we get the worst of both worlds: a massive national database rife with potential for abuse, and a leaky, insecure ID.

The same happened with Social Security. An ID that was designed solely to track hours for retirement benefits has become a national identification number, creating the actuality of massive id theft, in addition to its usage to undermine laws controlling immigration. All because we want to both have a 20th century control system, and the illusion of 18th century laws; we get the worst of both.

Mike SherwoodJanuary 30, 2007 8:34 AM

One problem I find with all existing ID systems is that it is not possible for someone to take an active role in their own security. While I understand that the vast majority of people want nothing to do with their own security, allowing for the capability isn't that hard.

There is absolutely nothing I can do to prevent someone from getting an ID in my name. The only way for me to find out if that's happened is after they have committed a crime using my ID or if my ID gets run and the officer is suspicious that I am showing him the old version of my ID.

I can get a duplicate of my ID sent to my current address by filling in a web form and paying a few dollars. That's easy and relatively secure if you believe the mail is reasonably secure and you are expecting to receive the card and will contact them if it doesn't show up. However, anyone can go into any department of motor vehicles (or equivalent) with a handful of papers anywhere in the country and get an ID in my name.

I would like to be able to specify that any changes to my ID have to be performed at a specific MVD office. Since I would choose the one closest to my home, it wouldn't be much of an imposition to go there to do updates, even if I decided to move, in which case I could go in to inform them of where I want that authority transferred. Likewise, I would like to have to appear in person at a specific financial institution that knows me in order to have any accounts opened in my name. The added inconvenience would be worth it to make it very difficult for someone to pretend to be me for any purpose.

I doubt I'm the only person who would take advantage of such a system if it were available. It would make it much harder to perform any type of ID fraud against an individual using the feature, while calling attention to anyone attempting to do it.

Randolph FritzJanuary 30, 2007 8:35 AM

Let me gently point out that this ID is probably going to be required to vote in many states. Since the Real ID Act comes into full force in May 2008, it seems likely that many people will be turned away from the polls because of ID problems during the November 2008 elections.

10% voter turnout, here we come.

Fraud GuyJanuary 30, 2007 8:57 AM

@Randolph Fritz

But if you have nothing to hide, why would you be afraid to get a Real ID and be eligible to vote? We only want those who we can trust voting, don't we?
(snark)

SteveJJanuary 30, 2007 9:00 AM

@Randolph: "many people will be turned away from the polls"

Except in Maine, where the state driver's license will presumably be accepted.

So if your prediction plays out, there's a turnout bias in favour of states which either reject REAL-ID or else get it properly implemented and deployed in time, and against states which make an average mess of it.

So finally we would see the electoral college system do something vaguely useful - it negates differences in turnout between states.

In the states with depressed turnout, of course, the Democrats will be quick to notice if there's a tendency for the least wealthy quartile to have most difficulty straightening out their ID.

Out of interest, would an administration fee to issue an ID document, which is necessary to vote, be an unconstitutional poll tax in the US? In the UK the national ID card is going to cost a lot to the recipient (nearly US$200 at today's exchange rate, and that's before cost overruns), but you don't need ID to vote. Not that poll taxes are unconstitutional here anyway.

HermanJanuary 30, 2007 9:11 AM

The usual list of arguments from our host. All fine and dandy. But when you take that list of reasons and compare it to reality, e.g. the situation in nations who already have ID cards and had them for a long time, all the doomsday scenarios seem to become irrelevant. Many European nations have ID cards. I have one too. How often do I actually need to produce it? About once a year, on average. (How often do you yanks have to show your DL or give your SSN in comparison?) While I might not like the requirement to own an ID card (I have to own one, but I don't need to carry it with me at all times, and my last one was expired for 8 years before I got a new one, nobody ever complained) the system seems to work reasonably well. Forgeries are extremely rare, ID theft is close to nonexistent.

Americans are against ID cards due to irrational fears, not realizing that the current system, where simple to forge documents like birth certificates, utility bills (!!!WTF! Who came up with that bullshit?) and drivers licenses are used is much worse.

No Such Thing As ID TheftJanuary 30, 2007 9:21 AM

@Mike
"I would like to be able to specify that any changes to my ID have to be performed at a specific MVD office. Since I would choose the one closest to my home, it wouldn't be much of an imposition to go there to do updates, even if I decided to move, in which case I could go in to inform them of where I want that authority transferred. Likewise, I would like to have to appear in person at a specific financial institution that knows me in order to have any accounts opened in my name. The added inconvenience would be worth it to make it very difficult for someone to pretend to be me for any purpose."


Great post. I completely agree with your comments. In-person verification should be required to get any form of identification or anything dependent on that id. Also, I totally agree that the identity information and anything dependent on this identity info (i.e. financial accounts) must be able to be "locked" by the owner, and only "unlocked" by in-person review.

ThuktunJanuary 30, 2007 9:23 AM

The solution to losing Real IDs is simple: just tattoo everyone's Real ID number on the back of their neck in barcode.

I'm kidding, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone honestly suggested something along these lines.

Unix RoninJanuary 30, 2007 9:26 AM

That article -- or its headline, at any rate -- is incorrect. Maine is actually almost a year behind New Hampshire, which overwhelmingly passed HB1852 (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2006/HB1582.html) in March 2006. HB1852 rejected RealID in New Hampshire, and prohibited all state agencies from participating in any national ID requirement.

"...the public policy established by Congress in the Real ID Act of 2005, Public Law 109-13", says HB1852, "is contrary and repugnant to Articles 1 through 10 of the New Hampshire constitution as well as Amendments 4 though 10 of the Constitution for the United States of America. Therefore, the state of New Hampshire shall not participate in a national identification card system ..."

AaronJanuary 30, 2007 9:31 AM

Personally, I like the idea of a national identity card, but for the exact opposite intent and reason that it's being proposed.

I want a national ID card as a less secure identification method that has as little information useful to identity thieves as possible meaning that I can use my driver's license/passport/SSN less often.

David HarperJanuary 30, 2007 9:51 AM

@Randolph Fritz

There are already ways for those in positions of power to prevent people from entering a voting booth if they think they will vote the "wrong" way. Just look at the disenfranchisement of thousands of African-Americans in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.

evilthinkerJanuary 30, 2007 9:59 AM

Herman: "While I might not like the requirement to own an ID card (I have to own one, but I don't need to carry it with me at all times, and my last one was expired for 8 years before I got a new one, nobody ever complained) the system seems to work reasonably well. Forgeries are extremely rare, ID theft is close to nonexistent."

You damage your own case with that argument. How reasonable is an ID system that can't even recognize an 8-year old expired certificate?

MadUnkieGJanuary 30, 2007 10:26 AM

There is another way to get around without having Real-ID: don't pose as an American. Posing as a foreigner from some friendly place (U.K., Canada, or wherever) gives much latitude without the same ID requirement. Even if the chosen country has it's own equivalent card, will all American security be trained to assess foreign ID? How much ID is needed to carry out the intended activity?

AndyJanuary 30, 2007 10:30 AM

Hmm. Sounds a lot like what we're getting in the UK - something introduced with little real debate, unclear cost, unclear objectives, and no specified connection between what it might be capable of and how it will stop terrorists.

Herman: What's the point in having it if nobody noticed your ID expired 8 years before? Also, regarding 'Doomsday scenarios' not coming to pass - well, I believe that the Nazis used ID cards in the Netherlands to assist in persecuting the Jewish people, and that in Rwanda the ehtnicity on their ID cards was used to identify victims. So yeah, no 'Doomsday scenarios', so long as you exclude genocide.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 30, 2007 10:35 AM

@evilthinker

"How reasonable is an ID system that can't even recognize an 8-year old expired certificate?"

Actually quite reasonable.

The expiry date does in no way invalidate the rest of the information on the card, it just gives a warning that it might no longer be valid.

As an example, all though your real name is not (I suspect) "evilthinker" your real name will most likly not have changed since you where born (unless you are now a wife and even then only part will have changed).

Likewise your real (DNA) sex (even with radical plastic surgery) will not have changed.

Even things that do age like your facial features and fingerprints will most likley not have changed sufficiently to invalidate their utility as a means of identification.

It is actually upto the person who inspects the ID card and the person holding it to use their own judgment. If they have doubts then the expiry date gives them an easy opt out.

DavidJanuary 30, 2007 10:46 AM

My problem with these solutions is that the actual terrorists on 9/11 had passports and didn't appear to have criminal histories that would make them suspicious.

You cannot stop crime. Period.

The best defense is a world in which freedom, justice and equal rights are guaranteed. It doesn't take a genius to see that most of our streets are not secure because we ID people or have cameras or troops everywhere.

We have security because people like their lives well enough not to commit these crimes, and those few who do are then apprehended and punished.

Pat CahalanJanuary 30, 2007 10:49 AM

@ Herman

> But when you take that list of reasons and compare it to reality, e.g. the
> situation in nations who already have ID cards and had them for a long
> time, all the doomsday scenarios seem to become irrelevant.

Although this may be true, this just means that the current threat doesn't match the vulnerability space. Moreover, it's entirely besides the point.

Whether or not RealIDs represent a "threat" or not is a very small portion of the equation. The main question is, what do we *get* for having RealIDs, and is it worth the price tag?

Your own anecdotes about carrying a "secure" ID seem to indicate that there is actually very little benefit to spending resources on making IDs more secure.

$11 billion here, $11 billion there, pretty soon we're talking about some real money...

UNTERJanuary 30, 2007 10:56 AM

@Herman:

Americans are against ID cards due to irrational fears, not realizing that the current system, where simple to forge documents like birth certificates, utility bills (!!!WTF! Who came up with that bullshit?) and drivers licenses are used is much worse.

=====

The problem is that this will only continue the same hodge-podge. The ID's will be dispersed via the local DMV, well-known for the high security process. Each state will of course have slightly different regulations, creating loopholes. As I said, we'll get the worst of all worlds by trying to slide this past the American people, rather than having a public debate, and settling the matter one way or another.

But instead we'll have a federal database with minimal regulation, we'll have id requirements which will continue to vary state by state, with all kinds of klutzes to join the system together, a hodge-podge of exceptions, and on top of it the new id's will be treated like internal passports, without which you won't be able to enter a federal building.

And all because rather than dissuading people's fears, our politicians would rather bury their actions while the publicly feed that paranoia.

across_the_pondJanuary 30, 2007 11:15 AM

As someone who lives in the country where it IS required to carry a passport all the time I'd say: it doesn't work. We have a lot things done on stolen /forged passports, a lot of errors happen, one has a haircut and later has a hard time asserting his identity and so on. Not worth the trouble.

DerickJanuary 30, 2007 11:29 AM

Funny you mention passports as we now require them to go to Mexico and Canada from the US.

Personally I think the US government will scrap Real ID and then quietly start requiring passports. Since it already exists they can start requiring its use more and more places until you'll need it to get stuff done.

X the UnknownJanuary 30, 2007 11:34 AM

@No Such Thing As ID Theft: "Great post. I completely agree with your comments. In-person verification should be required to get any form of identification or anything dependent on that id. Also, I totally agree that the identity information and anything dependent on this identity info (i.e. financial accounts) must be able to be "locked" by the owner, and only "unlocked" by in-person review."

I agree it was a great post. However, I foresee some "Devil in the Details" issues. How do we deal with the well-established delegation authority of "Power of Attorney", Executor of Estate, Legal Guardian, etc? Presumably, the actual person is unavailable or incompetent to appear in these cases, so we'll have to fall back on some kind of "legal documentation" - not much different from the current state of affairs.

Michael FooteJanuary 30, 2007 11:46 AM

Other "false positives" problems

From Boing Boing http://www.boingboing.net/2007/01/29/...

As handheld radiation detectors become more common in the name of "homeland security" at places like airports, border crossings, and large events like sports games, radiation therapy patients are setting off alarms in public places. Depending on the kind of therapy, a patient may be "hot" for up to three months. For example, six people were questioned at the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center last year after the medical radioisotopes in their bodies triggered false alarms, something "that happens all the time," according to New York's deputy comissioner for counterrrorism. From Reuters:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission first recommended in 2003 that doctors warn patients they may set off alarms after being injected or implanted with radioisotopes. That came after police stopped a bus that set off a radiation detector in a New York City tunnel. They found one of the passengers had recently undergone thyroid treatment with radioiodine.

In August, the British Medical Journal described the case of a very embarrassed 46-year-old Briton who set off the sensors at Orlando airport in Florida six weeks after having radioiodine treatment for a thyroid condition. ...

Bryan FeirJanuary 30, 2007 11:55 AM

@Derick:
Actually, passports are currently only required when flying between Canada or Mexico and the U.S. If you go by land or sea, that won't come into play until next year, because of the logistical problems of getting it set up.

As for requiring passports generally, I seem to recall that the U.S. has one of the lower number of passports per capita of the industrialized nations. I wonder just how much of a backlash there would be if a passport started to be required for more than just travel outside the country, which is something few Americans seem to feel the need to do anyway.

Geoff LaneJanuary 30, 2007 12:25 PM

The estimated costs for the proposed UK ID cards are 80 pounds/$160 for each card and maybe 15 billion pounds/$30B over 10 years to set up the system for 60 million people.

I would be amazed if the US with a population of 300M could do it for less.

ID cards are a huge smoke'n'mirrors trick. They do NOTHING to prevent terrorism and I for one would much prefer the bomb not go off rather than have the police identify the bomber from the burnt remains of their ID card.


AnonymousJanuary 30, 2007 12:32 PM

Isn't wearing a bullet proof vest illegal for normal people? That might have some significant impact on how many people wear them.

Mike SherwoodJanuary 30, 2007 12:37 PM

@X the unknown

Delegation can be an issue that needs to be considered for handling financial accounts, but I'm having a hard time thinking of instances where it would need to be done for identity documents. For example, would someone with a power of attorney go in and get a new ID or passport in my name, change the address, etc? If I'm incapable of going somewhere, my need for current, valid ID plummets dramatically.

However, in the case of handling accounts, I would expect that records are already kept. If I go into a bank to close an account, it's a simple process. If someone with a power of attorney goes in to close out (and remove the money) from my account, or open a new account in my name, I would expect the financial institution to keep copies of the power of attorney document as well as the identification of the individual performing the transaction. There's way too much liability when they're knowingly transacting business in someone else's name to not have a well defined process to handle those cases.

I'm sure there are a lot of details that make it harder to automate everything, but those are already special cases that are handled separately anyway.

BOB!!January 30, 2007 12:40 PM

@Unix Ronin

New Hampshire's Senate rejected the equivalent bill, so Maine is still ahead of them.

@Anonymousy

Alaska failed to pass legislation that would implement Real ID - which isn't the same as the Maine legislature's resolution *rejecting* Real ID

Jack WestportJanuary 30, 2007 12:45 PM

The British are fighting this battle also. This email, that has been circulated widely in the UK, highlights the other dangers of ID cards in the age of high speed computer networks and linked databases:

"You may have heard that legislation creating compulsory ID Cards passed a crucial stage in the House of Commons. You may feel that ID cards are not something to worry about, since we already have Photo ID for our Passport and Driving License and an ID Card will be no different to that. What you have not been told is the full scope of this proposed ID Card, and what it will mean to you personally.

The proposed ID Card will be different from any card you now hold. It will be connected to a database called the NIR, (National Identity Register)., where all of your personal details will be stored. This will include the unique number that will be issued to you, your fingerprints, a scan of the back of your eye, and your photograph. Your name, address and date of birth will also obviously be stored there.

There will be spaces on this database for your religion, residence status, and many other private and personal facts about you. There is unlimited space for every other details of your life on the NIR database, which can be expanded by the Government with or without further Acts of Parliament.

By itself, you might think that this register is harmless, but you would be wrong to come to this conclusion. This new card will be used to check your identity against your entry in the register in real time, whenever you present it to 'prove who you are'.

Every place that sells alcohol or cigarettes, every post office, every pharmacy, and every Bank will have an NIR Card Terminal, (very much like the Chip and Pin Readers that are everywhere now) into which your card can be 'swiped' to check your identity. Each time this happens, a record is made at the NIR of the time and place that the Card was presented. This means for example, that there will be a government record of every time you withdraw more than £99 at your branch of Nat West, who now demand ID for these transactions. Every time you have to prove that you are over 18, your card will be swiped, and a record made at the NIR. Restaurants and off licenses will demand that your card is swiped so that each receipt shows that they sold alcohol to someone over 18, and that this was proved by the access to the NIR, indemnifying them from prosecution.

Private businesses are going to be given access to the NIR Database. If you want to apply for a job, you will have to present your card for a swipe. If you want to apply for a London Underground Oyster Card,or a supermarket loyalty card, or a driving license you will have to present your ID Card for a swipe. The same goes for getting a telephone line or a mobile phone or an internet account.

Oyster, DVLA, BT and Nectar (for example) all run very detailed databases of their own. They will be allowed access to the NIR,just as every other business will be. This means that each of these entities will be able to store your unique number in their database, and place all your travel, phone records, driving activities and detailed shopping habits under your unique NIR number. These databases, which can easily fit on a storage device the size of your hand, will be sold to third parties either legally or illegally. It will then be possible for a non governmental entity to create a detailed dossier of all your activities. Certainly, the government will have clandestine access to all of them, meaning that they will have a complete record of all your movements, from how much and when you withdraw from your bank account to what medications you are taking, down to the level of what sort of bread you eat - all accessible via a single unique number in a central database.

This is quite a significant leap from a simple ID Card that shows your name and face.

Most people do not know that this is the true character and scope of the proposed ID Card. Whenever the details of how it will work are explained to them, they quickly change from being ambivalent towards it.

The Government is going to COMPEL you to enter your details into the NIR and to carry this card. If you and your children want to obtain or renew your passports, you will be forced to have your fingerprints taken and your eyes scanned for the NIR, and an ID Card will be issued to you whether you want one or not. If you refuse to be fingerprinted and eye scanned, you will not be able to get a passport. Your ID Card will, just like your passport, not be your property. The Home Secretary will have the right to revoke or suspend your ID at any time, meaning that you will not be able to withdraw money from your Bank Account, for example, or do anything that requires you to present your government issued ID Card.

The arguments that have been put forwarded in favour of ID Cards can be easily disproved. ID Cards WILL NOT stop terrorists; every Spaniard has a compulsory ID Card as did the Madrid Bombers. ID Cards will not 'eliminate benefit fraud', which in comparison, is small compared to the astronomical cost of this proposal, which will be measured in billions according to the LSE (London School of Economics). This scheme exists solely to exert total surveillance and control over the ordinary free British Citizen,and it will line the pockets of the companies that will create the computer systems at the expense of your freedom, privacy and money.

If you did not know the full scope of the proposed ID Card Scheme before and you are as unsettled as I am at what it really means to you, to this country and its way of life, I urge you to email or photocopy this and give it to your friends and colleagues and everyone else you think should know and who cares. The Bill has proceeded to this stage due to the lack of accurate and complete information on this proposal being made public. Together & Hand to hand, we can inform the entire nation if everyone who receives this passes it on. "

Mike SherwoodJanuary 30, 2007 12:45 PM

@Anonymous

Wearing body armor is generally legal in the US. There may be some places that it is not, but they are rare. However, many jurisdictions make it a crime to wear one in the commission of a crime. It's an add on charge for someone who is already charged with a crime. Many places will not sell body armor to people who are not active law enforcement (with ID(almost on topic)), even though there are no laws requiring them to do so.

derfJanuary 30, 2007 12:55 PM

Courts have ruled that requiring a picture ID for voting is (Georgia) and is not (Arizona) too large a burden on "the poor" and elderly.

So glad I could clear that up for you.

Don't worry - you'll absolutely be allowed to make a choice on RealID version 2.0 (RFID implants) - hand, forehead, or "loyalty enforcement facilitator".

BOB!!January 30, 2007 12:57 PM

@Herman

"Many European nations have ID cards. I have one too. How often do I actually need to produce it? About once a year, on average. (How often do you yanks have to show your DL or give your SSN in comparison?)"

While I don't keep a running tally, I'd be willing to bet that for most Americans, it winds up being at least a monthly occurrence, and far more often for others (for the young party animals, they have to pull it out at every club they go to on Friday and Saturday night).

"While I might not like the requirement to own an ID card (I have to own one, but I don't need to carry it with me at all times, and my last one was expired for 8 years before I got a new one, nobody ever complained) the system seems to work reasonably well."

In most states in the US, the law requires carrying your drivers license whenever you drive. For many people, that's every day, and so they're carrying it all the time. For those who aren't driving daily, a drivers licence is one of the few pieces of ID that most places will accept as proof of identity, age, home address, etc., so most of them wind up carrying it with them all the time too.

"Forgeries are extremely rare, ID theft is close to nonexistent."

Forgeries are extremely rare, because clearly, if you only need to pull it out once a year or so, it has very little utility as something to forge.

"Americans are against ID cards due to irrational fears, not realizing that the current system, where simple to forge documents like birth certificates, utility bills (!!!WTF! Who came up with that bullshit?) and drivers licenses are used is much worse."

Americans aren't against ID cards. What do you think a drivers license is? And most Americans don't care about Real ID - but the ones who do are against it because it costs a lot (both monetarily and in security) and adds no value over the current systems in place.

Bob RoenigkJanuary 30, 2007 12:57 PM

@Bruce
"This is, of course, ridiculous; so we rely on identity as a substitute. In theory, if we know who you are, and if we have enough information about you, we can somehow predict whether you’re likely to be an evildoer. But that’s almost as ridiculous."

I agreed with your reasoning up to this statement. While a secure identity system cannot identify first offenders (i.e. through intent), it is extremely useful to the state in identifying those who have been evildoers in the past, which is one of many excellent places to start looking for an unknown evildoer.

Without a secure identity system, evildoers can continue to be what they are with minimal interference from the state. Their real challenge is to not be arrested where their identity would be discovered through a secure identify system such as AFIS.

A secure identity system also provides additional security benefits to the "untrustworthy people whom we have no reason to mistrust" (of which I am a member). While the state cannot determine if I intend to join the evildoers, a secure identity system will readily identify me as a person that has not already been classified as one.

Chris SJanuary 30, 2007 1:07 PM

@Mike Sherwood;

"If I'm incapable of going somewhere, my need for current, valid ID plummets dramatically."

If you need valid ID to vote (not universal, but still a common requirement), then you will need your ID even if you are voting absentee. If you do NOT need your ID for this, then the whole point of the ID is greatly reduced.

Your need for "travel ID" is certainly less when you are immobile, but many government-delivered services (pensions, medical, anything tax-related) will typically need the ID.

Finally, when you die, someone has to change your status to 'dead', and likely wants any further information to go to your executor, who likely does NOT want it to go to your old address. It's important to handle these scenarios carefully and correctly - but also quickly. Failure to get that part right makes it too easy to steal dead people's identity. (I've heard they don't object as much as the living ones.)

As for the financial part - because of the close association between money, income, and taxes, its common for there to be legal requirements that financial institutions use government ID. Also, your comment about going to a financial institution 'that knows you' hides many of the same issues under that question. How do they know you? At all branches? What is their identity mechanism?

SamhJanuary 30, 2007 1:56 PM

One of the big problems with these ID cards is that if you obtain someone else's card through some form of forged identity, no one can really prove you aren't them if the ID is trusted.

Trust for these sorts of things can arise very quickly, in the UK when chip-and-pin was introduced it was peddled as more secure and was accepted as such. However it was just more secure for the card issuers as they were harder to forge, what actually happened was that cards were never checked, and as long as the PIN was known, which is easier than forging a signature or claiming to be someone else, the cards could be used almost universally without question.

merkelcellcancerJanuary 30, 2007 2:03 PM

We will end up as those with proper Fed ID embedded chips, those that purchase temporary embedded travel chips, and those without Fed ID or travel chips.

The last group of non-verifiable citizens will not be able to enter or access the resource rich communities of the world and not allowed to travel into our out of the have vs. the have not world.

Most Fed police compliance resources will be expended on finding the forgers of Fed ID and travel chips.

merkelcellcancerJanuary 30, 2007 2:15 PM

"Other 'False Positive" Problems.'

Brings to mind that I had four injections of an atomic isotope into my cancer site, so the surgeon could use a Geiger counter with a visualization system to trace cancer cells (merkel cell cancer) traveling through my lymph node system during a lengthy surgery. Then 5,000 Gy of proton radiation over five weeks. Hence the radiation glow even a month after treatments stopped.

http://merkelcell.googlegroups.com/web/...

Although I did not travel for six weeks after surgery I did require extra screening in Boston's Logan Airport when sensors went off. Tried to explain at the moment that I was a cancer patient and had just undergone treatment. I looked like I had been through a cooker, felt like hell and could barely stand up on my own feet. Didn't matter, I had to step out of the line for personal screening and evaluation. Go figure.

Eric VetillardJanuary 30, 2007 2:57 PM

@BOB

Just like you, I am puzzled at this thing that Americans have with ID's. They don't have a national ID program, but it is almost impossible to live there without a valid driver's license, even if you don't drive.

When I was there as a student, I was regularly refused entry to bars on the ground that my passport was not "a valid ID": no other country ever refused my passport.

I am also often required to show an ID for paying with a credit card, which never happens in Europe. From a European's point of view, USA is one of countries in which you most need an ID, and it is strongly recommended to carry your passport with you at all times (in other countries, I usually leave it in a hotel safe).

On the other hand, it is true that most Americans are strongly opposed to any national ID program, and not only for money issues. However, I can't really get the reason between 50 state ID programs and 1 nationwide one, except for the usual federal paranoia.

In the end, the US does have a national ID, which is very distributed, somewhat easy to forge (how many Rhode Island licenses does an Idaho policeman see in a year?), and nevertheless widely trusted. I can understand the money argument (a national ID will not be much better), but the paranoia still puzzles me, and keeps puzzling me every time I visit the US.

spanktimoniousJanuary 30, 2007 3:24 PM

Whats all this about ID for voting? If you Murrigans vote, how did Dubya get into office? Don't politicians just buy office in Murriga ?

in AZJanuary 30, 2007 3:52 PM

@derf
"Courts have ruled that requiring a picture ID for voting is (Georgia) and is not (Arizona) too large a burden on "the poor" and elderly."

AZ does NOT require picture ID for voting. Last election, I intentionally didn't present my picture ID (driver's license), only my voter registration card and one other piece from the prescribed list. I chose to bring official voter information with my street address printed on it. I received a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.

AZ may require picture ID to register to vote, but since I registered before the recent tightening of the laws, I haven't had to re-register, so I don't know what's required there.

elsewhereJanuary 30, 2007 3:53 PM

@Derick
"Funny you mention passports as we now require them to go to Mexico and Canada from the US."

IIRC neither Mexico nor Canada have changed their entry conditions. You can enter them from the US without a passport. You only need the passport to get back INTO the US.

mdfJanuary 30, 2007 4:27 PM

"IIRC neither Mexico nor Canada have changed their entry conditions."

But the US changed their exit conditions. As of 2007-01-23, anyone (including US citizens) leaving the USA by plane needs an exit visa^H^H^H^H, oh, excuse me, a passport. See:

http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/18531

In a few years, this will likely apply to the land borders as well. And to think I am young enough to remember the Evil Empire and its pernicious exit visa system. We've always been at war with EastAsia. Right?

the other GregJanuary 30, 2007 6:44 PM

This is exactly like the Iraqis dressed in American uniforms. "knowing" someone's label is not the same as knowing someone.

BillJanuary 30, 2007 11:00 PM

@thuktun:

"The solution to losing Real IDs is simple: just tattoo everyone's Real ID number on the back of their neck in barcode.

I'm kidding, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone honestly suggested something along these lines."

You needn't wait:

http://www.eetimes.eu/industrial/196900063

wkwillisJanuary 31, 2007 1:19 AM

I'm a security guard. The common failure mode for ID checks is firing the security guard who does them instead of just waving you through. Like me, for instance.

Gabriel GayhartJanuary 31, 2007 1:20 AM

Wow... I cant believe i read all that -- and im not quite sure if i even know everything i read ... but heck i'll give it too ya- great search engine bait, very well thought out. Yeah no id's , its a mandate that is just a big pain in the behind. Americans arent going to just comply - then you need enforcement and we end up creating another layer of burecracy. Homeland security department well get bogged down in the id thing.. well its a massive slippery slope. Ideal, i suppose - realistic - no even. Thanks a gain for that incredibly long blog - why did i just take all the time to read it? I dont know but that must be a compliment of your work.

James O'BrienJanuary 31, 2007 5:57 AM

Here's the deal, from my point of view... LINK A NATIONAL ID TO COMMERCE!!!! Basically, we have a well recognized ID system - a passport. If you use that or create another that requires the same basic hassle to get it doesn't matter to me. What's important is that it takes time to get (requires forethought) and each is checked against fairly accurate database of known identity criteria.

Now, when you purchase something or get money from an ATM your ID will be required. The Feds would get data on what you used your ID to authenticate and the details about when/where you used it. You're an illegal alien and want to get groceries - TOUGH LUCK! What does this do? It makes like really hard for people that are inherently conducting illegal activities.

It also creates a neat little paradigm - if I have three purchases in Grand Rapids at 12:34 / 18:12 / 21:27 on Friday the 15th and a purchase at 16:13 on the same day - one user is an impostor and would be spotted during automated auditing of the transaction database.

If you're here as a tourist or student - use your passport that you've been issued by your local government. The Feds would get this data too and could run whatever complex query they deem necessary to figure out who's doing what.

Anyway, just my thoughts and based not on terrorism in particular, but the problem of ILLEGAL immigrants - A FAR GREATER PROBLEM!

Andy MastersJanuary 31, 2007 6:40 AM

REAL ID is "forcing all states to conform to common and more stringent rules for issuing driver’s licenses".

How can this possibly work?
What happens if you don't drive and therefore don't have a driver's license?
Perhaps you are blind or you just don't like cars?
How can national ID system work if a reasonable percentage of the population can quite legitimately not have the required ID?

What happens to these people, will they become social outcasts unable to do anything that requires this ID?

Very scary...

alabamatoyJanuary 31, 2007 10:29 AM

"In most states in the US, the law requires carrying your drivers license whenever you drive. For many people, that's every day, and so they're carrying it all the time."

I have written my Senators and Congressman repeatedly with the suggestion that laws be written which require presentation of a valid drivers license in order to purchase motor vehicle fuel. Crashes involving drivers with suspended or no DL occur all the time. The nationally known "Billy Lane" of Biker's Inc fame and the TV show "Biker Build-off" is a good example - back in November he allegedly killed someone (a guy on a moped!) by running over him with his truck. Lane was driving on a suspended license for previous DUI.

I have a friend whose child is permanently impaired and will be unable to function independently as an adult as a result of an automobile accident. The kid was driving himself and his younger brother to church and was hit headon by 4 illegal mexicans in a borrowed truck, and the driver was highly intoxicated. None of the mexicans had a drivers license, and all were illegals.

As far as I am concerned, the sooner we implement some dire restrictions that PREVENT people from driving without a license (or else sentence anyone do so to public disemboweling by dull knife), the better off we will be. If this national ID improves our ability to keep unlicensed drivers off the road, that alone will be worth the price of admission.

RyanJanuary 31, 2007 11:41 AM

That was an excellent post... I have made some of the similar arguments, but not as eloquently.

alabamatoy - Do you actually think having a national ID program is going to stop unlicensed drivers from operatorating a motor vehicle? Or using that ID to buy fuel?

The better the trap, the smarter the rat gets...

Try taking away thier hands. That's the only way to stop someone from driving who is intent on doing so.

aMainerJanuary 31, 2007 11:47 AM

>If anything, it’s surprisingly cheap: Only $37 each
>for an estimated 295 million people who would
>get a new ID under this program.

I'm not sure where those numbers come from, but one estimate I've heard up here was that it would cost around $110 to renew your class C driver's license. I do believe that at least in part this number is based on the costs and overhead of issuing class A&B (commercial) licenses--while barely even beginning to cover infrastructure costs.
Based on figures like that alone, turning down RealID[annoyance] is a no-brainer.

DamonFebruary 1, 2007 8:43 AM

The national ID is already here: your cell phone. In ten years, cell phone numbers will be used in place of SSNs and names.

If A wants to verify B's identity:

1. B provides A with B's credentials.
2. A looks up B's phone number in a public directory.
3. A calls B and watches B answer the call.

Of course, this makes identity theft as easy as stealing a phone. There are ways to improve this, but the above will work 95% of the time.

AlanFebruary 1, 2007 9:54 AM

"expired for 8 years"...

A US Passport is valid as proof of citizenship (& presumably identity) even if expired. I presume the same is true there as well.

JFebruary 1, 2007 12:47 PM

Excellent essay. One point is very different in the UK. You, and Americans generally, worry about false positives and the damage they do. But the government in the UK doesn't, and has gone on record about that in a (slightly) different context. As part of the paedophile hysteria here, all (most) people who come into contact with children in any official or semi-official context have to be pre-cleared by a Criminal Records Bureau. [Even parents volunteering to help out in schools in some places.] The CRB is badly run and uses databases cobbled together from police files. A few thousand people have been known to have been wrongly classed as not-suitable-to-work-with-children. In the context of the hysteria, this is very serious. Not only does the UK gov fail to apologise for this, or fix the problem, ministers and officials proudly trumpet the fact they think this is okay.

pigletFebruary 1, 2007 2:20 PM

Herman is right. If anything, the US is more obsessed with ID than any of the countries that *do* have national ID cards. However, it is also true that Real ID won't make anything better. In my view, the biggest blunder in the US ID system is that people are identified by a number (SSN) which was never intended to be used for that purpose.

Bruce: "In this case, it would have to be 50 linked databases of private and sensitive information on every American -- ­one widely and instantaneously accessible from airline check-in stations, police cars, schools, and so on."

I would like to know whether this is actually part of the law, or whether it's only your expectation that this super-database will be built. As an aside, there are already so many easily accessible commercial databases with highly sensitive information.

logicnaziFebruary 1, 2007 9:59 PM

I agree the real ID is idiotic considered as an answer to terrorism. In fact as implemented it seems like a horrible idea missing out on all the benefits so it doesn't really look like a national ID but getting all the disadvantages.

However, many of your arguments seem to be geared to any national ID and while I still think it would be useless against terrorism this doesn't make it a bad idea.

For one thing creating a national ID care is a chance to substantially improve our privacy. The fact that the ID is national is no threat to privacy, any machine readable ID is just as universal a form of identification is just as useful for tracking people while the swipe cards on our driver's licensces often reveal far too much information.

I don't find the argument that the ID card will make ID theft easier compelling. True, the supposed ID thief needs to only breach one form of identification but as this ID replaces many other forms of identification it can both spend more money on security measures (to prevent faking the card) and make the hurdles to acquire one higher without increasing the total time/money people spend dealing with IDs. In the current system with many forms of ID the whole system is no stronger than it's weakest link. Once you obtain one form of ID (say a SSN) it becomes much easier to acquire the other forms of ID.

Having just one form of ID has significant convenience and economic benefits. By making this one form of ID as (or more) difficult to counterfeit than the several IDs that we now carry in our wallet it lets us avoid the annoying situations of having to pull out several forms of ID. If accompanied by some form of biometric ID it could be used to replace credit cards, just swipe the ID and select which credit card database you want to be authenticated against. I suspect there are also many benefits I haven't even thought of.

ygurFebruary 2, 2007 7:55 PM

Bruce: "In this case, it would have to be 50 linked databases of private and sensitive information on every American -- ­one widely and instantaneously accessible from airline check-in stations, police cars, schools, and so on."

This information is already available as a service provided and supported by '50 linked databases'.

Each and every Motor Vehicle department currently supports on-line 'instananeous' transactions (among which are identity checks) between the various databases using a system called 'AAMVANET'.

Using common, published transations many agencies and private organizations can request identity data like this already. The infromation is already used by many agenies including being 'accessible from police cars' for example, via interfaces in each state's law enforcement systems.

In other cases the data is used, for example, when agenies must 'know' whether or not you are already registered with a license or ID card in another state. In addition, it is used to support the Problem Driver Point System - that's how they 'know' when a driver is ticketed in another state.

The problem, currently is that there is no enforced standard as to the measure taken to ensure the validity of the information used, for instance the types and levels of documentation required to 'prove' your identity. Generally, the Real-ID Act (because it does not 'force' you to have or carry this ID) just standardizes what can or cannot be used in receiving an ID document which is generally accepted at face value as a 'proof of identity'.

I think many of the posts seem to see 'black helicopters' at every corner. I know - don't be surprised when the Gestapo comes and kicks down my door.

Bob RoenigkFebruary 4, 2007 1:20 PM

2/4/07 Update. A news article on this topic had a short list of reasons states are saying why they cannot comply with Real ID, including...

"... the requirement that applicants' full legal names appear on licenses will pose problems because some states limit the number of characters on the face of the card."

Passing legislation mandating a certain level of technological compliance fails to take into account the (lack of) expertise and (lack of) vision of the participants. There is no magic wand mandate that can move an entity that has 30+ year old systems into today's standards.

AlexFebruary 6, 2007 8:11 AM

Even if you could produce an un-forgeable ID, and implement the ID and the system to support it for free, I still would not support the scheme.

The rules for managing the system will vary from place to place. One state will allow some details to be available to private companies, others will allow a different set of details. Companies in different states will combine forces to reproduce the entire database, in addition to tagging the data with your purchase and travel habits.

If I didn't have anything to hide, why do I wear clothes? There are things about me that I don't want others to know. Some things that happen in my life I want to be able to use as stories to tell over a drink, and I won't get as much milage from the stories if people have ready access to the facts - the fish was only a foot and a half long, not two!

Even worse, I have one friend here in town who is constantly being refused finance and sometimes being turned down for jobs because there's another person known to the police who skips on loans and has a criminal record - with exactly the same first and last name. In his case, having a Real ID would make things worse for him, because people wouldn't stop to think, "maybe it's a case of mistaken identity" - they'd jump straight to, "the database says that someone with this name is a criminal, so obviously he's not trustworthy!"

How to you apply for a Real ID? Something as foolish as a 100 point identity check where things like a birth certificate or a bill from a bank or utility count as "identifying" documents? Will the database manager compare your biometric data to all the others stored in the database to make sure you haven't already applied for a Real ID under a different name?

What if you legally have two names? Your birth mother called you Frank, your adoptive mother called you Bob. How will the state check that the person named on your birth certificate didn't change their name in some way at a later date? What if your parents divorced while you were in junior school, so you have a birth certificate in one name, but all your bank accounts and graduation certificates are in another name?

And what is a national ID card actually supposed to be helping me do that I can't do now?

Spending 0.1% of GDP to prevent social security fraud worth 0.05% of GDP just doesn't make sense. Expending any effort to prevent crimes that don't happen doesn't make sense.

In some ways, I wish it was still possible to pack up my essentials (razor, Trangia) and head out to the bush and live on the land. But no, these days you need to present ID before you can pee on a tree, and they insist on capturing a sample of your urine for various tests...

I don't think I'd enjoy living in a world where there was a form of compulsory ID linked to a shared database, with little control over what private concerns could do with their access to that database.

Terry ClothFebruary 6, 2007 10:18 AM

@Andy Masters: What happens if you don't drive and therefore don't have a driver's license?

A couple of months ago, I missed a chance to find out. I was pulled over for an infraction while riding my bicycle. The cop asked for my driver's license, blithely assuming I had one. I considered saying that I didn't have one, since I was a bicyclist, but chickened out. Maybe next time....

HeatherFebruary 6, 2007 8:45 PM

For the person who is insane enough to want to require a drivers' license to buy fuel:
One. Won't work--all the person has to do is have someone else fill up for him.
Two. Do you have ANY IDEA how many ways that do not involve poor driving there are to get one's license suspended? Depending on the state, they can include unpaid tickets of any sort, whether traffic or not mowing your lawn in a timely fashion, being behind on your taxes, and, most insanely of all (as no license effectively means "unable to work" in most of this country) being behind on your child support--regardless of how good the reason. Our child support setup is a horrid mess.

HeatherFebruary 6, 2007 8:47 PM

For the person who is insane enough to want to require a drivers' license to buy fuel:
One. Won't work--all the person has to do is have someone else fill up for him.
Two. Do you have ANY IDEA how many ways that do not involve poor driving there are to get one's license suspended? Depending on the state, they can include unpaid tickets of any sort, whether traffic or not mowing your lawn in a timely fashion, being behind on your taxes, and, most insanely of all (as no license effectively means "unable to work" in most of this country) being behind on your child support--regardless of how good the reason. Our child support setup is a horrid mess. And that is before we even start on just exactly how insane our drunk driving prosecution setup is. Rather than targeting the subset of not-entirely-sober drivers that cause almost all accidents, we try to dragnet every 110-pound lady that had ONE glass of wine with dinner. (The average BAC of those involved in drunk driving accidents is over twice the legal limit)

pigletFebruary 8, 2007 6:07 PM

"Generally, the Real-ID Act (because it does not 'force' you to have or carry this ID) just standardizes what can or cannot be used in receiving an ID document which is generally accepted at face value as a 'proof of identity'."

Isn't this similar to trying to fix security holes in Windows?

pdlFebruary 15, 2007 1:57 PM

Regarding your comments concerning "Real ID" there is also a fairly
straight-forward legal argument that should be considered. This was
demonstrated in the Supreme court ruling that certain provisions of the
Brady Law were unconstitutional (Printz v US). Specifically, the Brady
Law required local law enforcement officers to enforce federal law.
This violates the 10th Amendment of the US constitution as well as the
concept of Federalism. Similarly, it seems to me that the Real ID law
requires local government employees to carry out a federal mandate. The
states attorneys general may wish to investigate if Printz can be used
as a precedent to keep this federal silliness away from state
enforcement.

william adams, pe, phdFebruary 15, 2007 3:26 PM

Bruce,

We have a national ID card already.
It is called a passport.
Credentials thoroughly checked before issuance.
Not perfect, but the gold standard.

What is crazy is that a guard at a navy base asked for my drivers license instead after I gave him my passport in response to his request for ID. Which is easier to obtain fraudulently and/or fake? Another time they took my university ID and asked for nothing more! Good ID is no good if it isn't used exclusively.


Risk is personal not mathematical. If I perceive a risk then countermeasures are mandatory IMHO. If I do not perceive a risk then spend someone elses money on a "cure".

Odds of dying under anesthesia are about 1/5000. Odds of dying from skydiving somewhat better. Which would most people willing undertake? Should some govt mathematician be making their choices for them?

Sleepign well at night has value even if some mathematicians meaningless model, based on incorrect assumptions, gets ignored.

If you do not allow for personal assignment of the value/impact of a risk then you might as well go ahead and tell us how much our jobs are worth and totally take control of our lives cause the commies won after all.

Govt dictation as well as stupid mathematicians leads to unintended consequences. The safest approach is to let everyone make their own decisions. Then when someone is wrong they dont take us all with them when their mistake leads to a disaster.

The bigger problem si not measuring risks and deciding who is right and who is a nervous nellie, but rather knowing why we are being sold out by our politicians so their biz contributors can make more money by putting the country and us at risk -- or worse have sold the country long term for short term gains.

It was bad enough that they simply stole from the citizens to ensure bigger corporate profits, now they put our lives at risk.

The vandals are at the gates, and it is too late.
The USA will not exist by 2050 thanks to the idiotic policies that kept our borders wide open, imported cheap workers, and exported jobs.

There are so many engineers and tekkies out of work, working at menial jobs, etc., and now they wonder why nobody is enrolling in engineering and science anymore. Has to be a conspiracy underneath all this somewhere.

David JFebruary 20, 2007 10:57 AM

Just for grins: The $11B is only the first round of costs, eventually some bureaucrat will realize that everyone will have to get new cards every 5 or 10 years, and with 20% loss per year, that will mean $11B every 5 or 10 years + $11B every 5 years for loss, giving us about recurring costs close to $4B per year.

Then another bureaucrat will add fines for recurrent card losers and we will have to add court and lawyer fees and lost productivity.

RussFebruary 23, 2007 4:28 PM

@alabamatoy -

[QUOTE]
I have written my Senators and Congressman repeatedly with the suggestion that laws be written which require presentation of a valid drivers license in order to purchase motor vehicle fuel.
[/QUOTE]

I have a real problem with showing ID to people like gas station attendants, store clerks, etc.. My ID *is* my identity. It has my name, address and DOB. I shudder to think that I would be required to disclose my name and address to every gas station attendant. I especially object to my wife being required to show her address to these often 'unpleasant' people (some of whom are undoubtably criminals, as these are really 'bottom feeder' jobs).

I imagine them leering intently at her while memorizing the address for a later visit.

No thanks... I'd sooner buy gas on the black market. At least they wouldn't care who I am.

Old DragoonFebruary 26, 2007 2:51 PM

I think the more significant question from a civil liberties perspective is --- why have a card that identifies me personally to the card reader at all? If the purpose is to authorize me to drive, why not a card that when presented by my thumb and queried yields only an encrypted number permitting the state driver registration system to attest its validity. Perhaps the card could also have two other fields: 18 and over (cigarettes) and 21 and over (alcohol). The point is --- there is no good reason to give Uncle the means to track my otherwise lawful activities if the purpose is only to identify me.

JJMarch 1, 2007 3:43 PM

This whole business is just a way for the US Gov't to make everyone carry ID cards approved by them. They realize that around 25% of the population have a passport and that number triples for those who have driver licenses. Doens't take alot of smarts to figure where they are going with this.

StefanMarch 2, 2007 5:42 AM

Let me point out some of the benefits of a National ID from my perspective in Sweden:
* ID is used to prevent underage to by alcohol.
* ID is used as a drivers licence valid in EU.
* ID is used for signature buys (when paying with your credit card in a shop and you have no contact with the bank, acquirer, for verifying PIN)
* ID contains my unique personal number, this is used to see if I can be trusted when I buy a car, a house, etc. The personal number is used to check if I have a good economy. If I have neglated to pay my bills I will not be allowed to do the purchase.
* During voting, at the hospital, etc.

Most of these benefits will by themself mean an economic benefit for the US that is much higher than 11 billion US Dollars!

The big problem is the American way of life. You value freedom, independance and integrity so high that this national ID still will take many years in the US.
Bruce, surly you must realize the economic benefits of a national ID, are you planning to become a politian?

John GaltMarch 6, 2007 3:29 PM

"The big problem is the American way of life. You value freedom, independance and integrity so high that this national ID still will take many years in the US."

Silly us...I mean, U.S.

What could we possibly be thinking valuing "those things" so highly?

KDOVApril 11, 2007 2:52 PM

Security, DMVs, and IDs

The Real ID Act requires federal and state governments (DMVs) to spend billions of dollars to start systems which will inconvenience every single citizen. And this in order to stop the few criminals among us. The terrorists have won. All this effort and money would be much better spent to more severely punish and control those few bad actors who would commit fraud and criminal acts using fraudulent identifications. Let’s concentrate on the few criminals rather than each and every citizen. If I personally desire or need to protect my identity, let me choose to purchase a secure ID through the private sector, where I could voluntary decide to share all my information, and then also benefit from the security and safety provided. It is my Liberty after all! We still don’t need national ID Cards, be it the state’s driver’s license or not, we need to concentrate on catching the criminals and terrorists. Dollar for dollar, we will create more security, catch more crooks and terrorists, and not threaten personal rights and liberties.

Concurrently, the issuance of driver's licenses, which should be solely and directly linked to safe behavior and driving skills, has become more and more a social control document. States are connecting driver's licenses to deadbeat Dads, alcohol and drug users (for underagers even when unconnected with driving), litterers, voter registration, organ donors, sex offenders, school dropouts, draft registration, not to mention an identification tool for bars, retail shops, college applications, etc. etc. Let’s get the license issuers in the Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) back to creating safe drivers, rather than letting them become surrogate Daddy Mommy Vicars (DMVs).

SRApril 14, 2007 12:39 AM

The Real ID act is a farce. Another move towards world government. With implanted RFID chips (this will be a next step and reality), the federal goverment will simply be able to turn you 'off'. Want to board an airplane? sorry.

Most people are so uneducated about any issues related to the Federal Reserve, world banking, the Federal government and the reality that there truly is a cartel at the top. Those who control the money. Democrat or Republican? Simply pawns. The outcome of Real ID? US Citizens as nothing more than serfs.

The forefathers of our country would have given their lives to stop this governmental control and yet a couple hours of viewing Fox and half of America sees the 'benefits' and continues to drink the Kool-aid.

The Real ID act has nothing to do with terror and stopping terrorists!! Wake up America! This act is a further reduction of your already dwindling rights. How much more are you willing to give up?

All this reminds me of the scenes in Nazi Germany. 'Show me your papers', show me your papers. Oh you don't have papers. Whamo - you're off to jail or worse - blam you're dead.

Isn't this what so many American veterans died trying to prevent? Have we truly become so ignorant of the importance of freedom?

Robert CollinsMay 13, 2007 1:10 AM

REAL ID is another step of many to tyrany in the United States. As an Active Duty member of the military, I am ashamed what our corupt politicians are doing to this country while they stick me in a country saying to fight terrorist when the real terrorist are the one's inside our government. They steal our freedoms a little bit at a time.

Yet people seem more interested in watching the TV and spending hours of their free time talking about sports or what Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan is doing. This great country is being robbed blind. Even our kids are being stolen and re-educated by the family courts for the last 30 years. You should look at our recruits that have grown up in single-mother homes without fathers you will get the point. These guys are total wussy boy losers getting mommied so long, they don't know how to be a man and act like total whiner. No wonder why this is so much male bashing in the TV commercials and femmenist writings. I am sick and tired of the system taking advantage of us and we need to get a grip or we will lose these freedoms that make us free.

If this war on terror is such a big deal why is our government letting family court judges allowing spouses of servicemen to be divorced and lose their children, and home while they are deployed in Iraq or Afganistan and not allow the servicemen to defend themselves. I find it disgusting that George Bush has the SCRA of 2003 is not enforced to stop this corupt family court judges and give servicemen relief.

These corupt family court judges are ruining our futures and our children's futures but nothing is getting done about it. They turn our spouses and families against us and eat us like cancer and bloodsuck away our family wealth. Look at the Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger case, they have spent $3 million fighting and they are encouraged to fight. The solution is 50/50 equal parenting and less government intrusion into our privates lives. I am tired of hearing my military friends getting arrested and having their driver's liscense suspended when they return home from Iraq and have no clue they were divorced and in arrears on child support. They are even suprised when they are served a restraining order when they come home when they are supposed to be having their wives and kids welcoming them back. REAL ID is another tool the disenfranchise people and make all your rights priveledges at the whims of a tyranical government. Watch out.

CRISPE and Fathers-4-Justice are fighting for more personal freedoms and getting the government out of our families business. We need to get active and mobilized and let our politicians know who they are working for and stop this envasive programs.

Related sites:
www.crispe.org
www.f4j.us

LibertyAnneMay 25, 2007 7:28 PM

This disgusting ID card is one more way for the feds to track our every move.
I resent being forced to have a nazi number as it is. The first SS cards had a disclaimer on them that they could not be used as an identifier.
Everyone in Wisconson should be working to recall Congressman James Sensenbrener (R). He is the one who snuck the "Real ID" act on to a defense appropriations bill. No debate, no heaings, nothing. And the no-good Republican 109th congress rammed it through. This congress will repeal it if they hear from enough of us. Congress gets nervous when a bunch of calls and emails come in on the same subject. LET'S DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

fusionJune 6, 2007 11:33 PM

Two more cents' worth...

You know, you have to wonder what insane asylum this sprang from...Unless, of course, it really is part of the Strauss/Neocon drive to make us into a fascist state...

Here are two views: one by a retired USN officer in naval and civilian security posts; and one real-life, street-level interview with perps and a cop...

“Real ID Act - Real Nightmare��?
OpEdNEWS 2/16/07 Gerard Keenan
http://www.opednews.com/articles/...

Begin clips

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), 9 February 2007, there are about 245 million licensed drivers in this country nearly all of whom will also be required to be re-licensed/re-credentialed under the provisions of the Real ID Act.

To effect this, and to issue new driver's licenses and ID cards, each person will have to produce the required documents listed in Sec. 202 (c). The DMV is then required to "verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document......"

Also according to the CSM, there are at least 16,000 issuers of birth certificates in this country alone from which the DMV's will have to obtain verification. Then there are the 50+ DMV's (including US territories) that issue driver's licenses and ID's. Throw into this mix the millions of Americans in similar situations to my own family and you are asking the impossible of DMV personnel.


My family is only one situation among millions that DMV personnel across the country
will be confronted with. Will they be trained in the scenarios they'll have to face? Will they know which agency, in more than 100 countries, they will have to contact for verification? and how to do it? How long will it take to obtain verification, how much will it cost, and who will pay for it? How will verification be obtained from
countries like Libya where we once had a sizeable military presence but with whom we no longer even have diplomatic relations? Or countries that no longer exist like Yugoslavia?

Under Sec. 202 ( c) (1) and (2), the minimum standards for issuing drivers licenses are laid out. However, it is Sec. 202 ( c)(3) Verification of Documents where the problems will become evident. Sec. 202 ( c)(3)(A) "Before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, the State shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented by the person under paragraph (1) or (2)."

===

The author is retired from the US Navy. Former civilian Security Ass't to Commander US Naval Forces Europe. Military/terrorism research expert. Currently he is researcher/correspondent for Western Defense Studies Institute, Rome, Italy. Founding member and press officer Intelligence Community-Human Intelligence (IC-HUMINT) based in Scotland, UK.

20 years in the US Navy, followed by a further five years as a civilian with the Navy. For 23 of those years I served in Europe. My first wife was British and we had two daughters and a son, all born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and all issued British birth certificates; though one of those daughters passed away many years ago. My second wife is American who also served in the US Navy. We also have two daughters and a son. Both girls were born in London, England, and have British birth certificates. Variously they have SSN’s and have paid into SS, have worked in the US, served in the Navy, hold Dept. of State Certification of US Citizenship etc

end clips

I’m particularly fond of this one,

Clips

Luis Hernandez just laughs as he sells fake driver's licenses and Social Security cards to illegal immigrants near a park known for shady deals. The joke _ to him and others in his line of work _ is the government's promise to put people like him out of business with a tamperproof national ID card.

"One way or another, we'll always find a way," said Hernandez, 35, a sidewalk operator who is part of a complex counterfeiting network around MacArthur Park, where authentic-looking IDs are available for as little as $150.

Some of those coming to MacArthur Park are teenagers who want a fake ID so they can go to bars and drink. Others are ex-convicts whose criminal records make working under their real names difficult. But most are illegal immigrants who need work documents.

n the past, authorities could often break up a network by raiding a central "document mill" where Social Security cards, passports and licenses might be drying on a large printing press, said Kevin Jeffery, deputy agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles.

Now documents are made with illegal software on laptop computers. That mobility makes them harder to bust.

"With a computer and a printer, you are in business," Jeffery said.

Authorities can also be stymied by complex delivery networks.

Around MacArthur Park, sellers who openly offer fake IDs do not actually carry any of the documents. Instead, they negotiate prices as high as $300 for a package containing a driver's license, Social Security card and green card. Next, they send the buyer to a less crowded area a few blocks away, where a picture is taken and the customer pays up.

The picture and cash change hands a few times before arriving at an apartment where a laptop, printer and laminating machine spit out the documents. Within an hour, a runner _ perhaps a young man dressed as a student, or an elderly woman _ delivers the documents near the site of the original deal.

Hernandez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said it is not easy work. The biggest threats are disgruntled customers, undercover agents who record deals with cameras the size of a button, and gang members demanding protection money.

When Hernandez senses a customer might be a police officer, he calls out "7/11," and his underlings disappear. If a seller is arrested, others collect money to bail him out of jail.

"We are not trying to do anything bad," said Sergio Guitierrez, 35, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who sells IDs. "Immigrants just need to work."

End clips

“Fake ID Sellers Dismiss Tamperproof Push��?
Sellers of fake immigration papers say they aren't worried about call
for tamperproof ID cards
AP / CBS news LOS ANGELES, Jun. 2, 2006
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/02/ap/...


Also:

“REAL ID Will Cost States More than $11 Billion��?
National Conference of State Legislatures 11/21/06
http://www.ncsl.org/programs/press/2006/...

DD HORTONAugust 2, 2007 5:46 PM

Their is a new Federal ID program in the works, matter of fact it has been an on going program aimed at oversite of our Financial System for the last 22 yr.s. I will be glad to introduce this program if your readers are interested. I am the designer of the program, which will be established as a Quasi-Governmental Insurance program, insuring the authenticity of every individuals identity. This program will work with Homeland Securitys US VISIT Program.

Anne McDowellAugust 23, 2007 5:04 AM

Thought police is such an interesting concept, you say. It is a security thing with the Internet. I want to do all I can to prevent on my end and also to awsk about troops in Iraq, "Why are we still over there."

Anton SherwoodSeptember 16, 2007 2:46 AM

Does anyone pretend there's a reason, other than security theater (thanks for the phrase!), for demanding ID at the door of federal office buildings? The marshals don't check it against a no-pick-up-tax-forms list or record it in any way (at least in my experience in San Francisco and Oakland), they only insist that you show that some government somewhere believes you exist.

Anton SherwoodSeptember 16, 2007 5:32 PM

If we must have "papers", Old Dragoon has the right idea: a thumbprint and a list of authorizations, no name and for heaven's sake no home address. If you want to know where I sleep you'd better have a damn good reason — and that applies to Big Brother no less than to the "unpleasant people" that worry Russ.

bruser bobMarch 23, 2008 4:53 PM

""IF"" by chance I have birth certificate that isn't mine along with the SSN in same persons name. I can get a utility bill under that persons name, and get the "REAL ID". If it comes down to a thumb print and retinal scan, And the above person already has one, I simply lost it, and start over. There are ways!

ALSO, you have to remember the same evil doers that have credit card scanners WILL have a fake "REAL ID" scanners.

I might add the info on you card could be sold to advertisers using the information on your purchases. Just as you bank sells things about you. You have to think, How can one capitalize from this? (no one in government would do that now would they?)

lamsjousaOctober 10, 2008 2:25 AM

Hello.
:)

The images were released to celebrate the arrival on Monday of Emma Tallulah, the couple's third daughter.
Bye.

IAmRightNovember 9, 2010 11:12 AM

In Delaware, where I live they are pimping the Real ID like it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I will NEVER get one. If I can’t fix the situation in my State, than I will be moving. If I can’t move far enough, I will go off the grid. It is a shame that I would have to do such a crazy thing to protect my privacy and stand for my principles.

The sad truth is, the vast majority of people are too wrapped up in themselves and their lives to care about the loss of freedoms, the waste in government, or the death of our constitutional republic.

Even those who have interest, are so mis-informed and brain washed from the corporate media machine that they simply squabble whatever left or right sided position the news they choose to watch tells them.

We are becoming a nation void of individual thought. Convenience has taken the place of research. Corporations and chains have taken over.

Never mind the fact that we have sent generations of our bravest young men and women to fight wars that make our citizens less secure, poorer, and hated around the world.

This country has lost its way. I just can’t believe that socialism and communism ideas are now the main stream thought.

What ever happened to self reliance?

Whatever happened to keeping the money you earn from your efforts?

Whatever happened to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Why has it become the governments job to play Robin Hood?

It makes me sick that my government takes money from me and then uses that money to go kill people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the other countries we are in “unofficially” .

It makes me sick that my neighbors and acquaintances can’t even research the people they vote for. How many people even know the names of some of the people they vote for an hour later?

Just vote the party line! Who has time to think for themselves, it just hurts to much. ouch! Brain Pain

Just a load of crap. Why is it so hard to see that if Grandma was never taxed on her income, she would have enough money to buy her own medicine, or if you were not taxed on your income perhaps you could buy it for her.

I know I went off topic a bit there but when the rant starts it can’t stop easily.

The Real ID does drive me nuts. I actually have written an article about it here, http://www.upfordebate.us/story.php?...

I think it is important to get the word out about this as much as possible. Most people have just bought the propaganda the State has put on them without even questioning why? Or if this is something considered American in values.

I have not yet given up on my country, though that day may come. I will fight as long as a fight is to be had. Unfortunately, they are winning, even as they are exposed. I feel we have a legitimate chance to make corrections in the coming years. I think within a decade we should know which way our country will go.

Until then I will do everything I can to thwart the Real ID Act and stand up for my friends and neighbors even as they mock me for standing on the side of liberty and freedom.

The true patriot always stands alone at first.

Anthony MooreJuly 19, 2011 12:44 PM

Do advise the total cost for the below units:

1 x unit of P430i card printer ethernet

15 x units of 1 series Ribbon YMCKO colour 200 image

Waiting to read from you now.

Muc Electrical
Kind Regards

David Taylor
42, Bentinck Street
Birkenhead
Merseyside
Ch41 4dy
United Kingdom
Tel:02921251657
Mob:07466267636

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