University of Miami law professor Michael Froomkin writes about ID cards and society in “Identity Cards and Identity Romanticism.”
This book chapter for “Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)—a forthcoming comparative examination of approaches to the regulation of anonymity edited by Ian Kerr—discusses the sources of hostility to National ID Cards in common law countries. It traces that hostility in the United States to a romantic vision of free movement and in England to an equally romantic vision of the ‘rights of Englishmen’.
Governments in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and other countries are responding to perceived security threats by introducing various forms of mandatory or nearly mandatory domestic civilian national identity documents. This chapter argues that these ID cards pose threats to privacy and freedom, especially in countries without strong data protection rules. The threats created by weak data protection in these new identification schemes differ significantly from previous threats, making the romantic vision a poor basis from which to critique (highly flawed) contemporary proposals.
One small excerpt:
…it is important to note that each ratchet up in an ID card regime—the introduction of a non-mandatory ID card scheme, improvements to authentication, the transition from an optional regime to a mandatory one, or the inclusion of multiple biometric identifiers—increases the need for attention to how the data collected at the time the card is created will be stored and accessed. Similarly, as ID cards become ubiquitous, a de facto necessity even when not required de jure, the card becomes the visible instantiation of a large, otherwise unseen, set of databases. If each use of the card also creates a data trail, the resulting profile becomes an ongoing temptation to both ordinary and predictive profiling.
Posted on March 4, 2009 at 7:25 AM •
The USB stick, outlining training for 70 soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, was found on the floor of The Beach in Newquay in May.
Times, locations and travel and accommodation details for the troops were included in files on the device.
It’s not the first time:
More than 120 USB memory sticks, some containing secret information, have been lost or stolen from the Ministry of Defence since 2004, it was reported earlier this year.
Some 26 of those disappeared this year == including three which contained information classified as “secret”, and 19 which were “restricted”.
I’ve written about this general problem before: we’re storing ever more data in ever smaller devices.
The point is that it’s now amazingly easy to lose an enormous amount of information. Twenty years ago, someone could break into my office and copy every customer file, every piece of correspondence, everything about my professional life. Today, all he has to do is steal my computer. Or my portable backup drive. Or my small stack of DVD backups. Furthermore, he could sneak into my office and copy all this data, and I’d never know it.
The solution? Encrypt them.
Posted on September 16, 2008 at 6:21 AM •
Don’t give someone your phone unless you trust them:
There is a new electronic capture device that has been developed primarily for law enforcement, surveillance, and intelligence operations that is also available to the public. It is called the Cellular Seizure Investigation Stick, or CSI Stick as a clever acronym. It is manufactured by a company called Paraben, and is a self-contained module about the size of a BIC lighter. It plugs directly into most Motorola and Samsung cell phones to capture all data that they contain. More phones will be added to the list, including many from Nokia, RIM, LG and others, in the next generation, to be released shortly.
Another news article.
Posted on September 3, 2008 at 6:03 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.