June 16, 2005

Another Way Real ID Act Will Make Identity Theft Easier

From a Scripps Howard news story titled In future, driver's licenses may be mailed to you (emphasis mine):
Because DMV officials are going to have to verify the information -- and that process will take some time -- experts predict that most busy DMV offices soon will send licenses and renewals via the U.S. mail, just like most U.S. passports are currently delivered.

Jason King, spokesman for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, said 42 states currently verify Social Security information on license applications, but no states are verifying birth certificate or other documentation that the Real ID Act requires.

"I think it is fair to say you may not get your license on the day you go to DMV," King said. "It may take DMV some time to do its homework."

King said states haven't yet completed their assessment of the full impact that the Real ID Act will have on their operations, and some changes are awaiting federal regulations, which have yet to be drafted by the Department of Homeland Security.

Ahh yes, "awaiting federal regualations" ... as if things aren't bad enough as is. I already know of people who have to lock mailboxes and take other steps to make sure their mail doesn't get stolen -- can you imagine what mailing out driver's licenses will do to mail theft? And we all know how helpful the USPS (or, as a dear friend of mine calls them, "the Post Awful") is likely to be in handling the problem. This entire article is worth reading; here's just one more bit of information worth emphasizing (emphasis mine):
The Real ID Act says applicants will have to supply DMV offices with documentation of their date of birth, proof of their Social Security number or a document showing they are a legal resident not eligible for Social Security, and a utility bill or other documentation of their residency. People who move will be prohibited from getting a license in their new state of residency until their license in the previous state is canceled.

So that's gonna add more to DMV workloads too. Given how smoothly any bureaucracy works, does anyone want to make any predictions as to the lag time between a person making the request to have a license canceled, and the action actually being taken? What do you think the minimum bribe might be to expedite this service in populous states like New York and California? What happens if you actually drive during that in-between period and have an accident or commit some heinous offense, like speeding, and get stopped?

From an op-ed discovered in yesterday's Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel, titled Steer clear of national ID card (emphasis mine):
The United States continues to hedge closer toward the idea of a national identification card with recently passed legislation.

First came the intelligence reform legislation. Most recently, passage of the REAL ID Act upped the ante.

Both bills contained provisions mandating national regulations for driver's licenses and other forms of identification. ....

Some scenarios -- government officials being able to note your every move by scanning cards from a distance -- sound pretty much like conspiracy theory. But the technology exists, so such changes should not be undertaken lightly.

The initial problem is that driver's licenses have gone far beyond their intended use in society. Driver's licenses are used to board planes, open bank accounts, rent cars, and to prove identity in too wide of a variety of places and situations. So tinkering too much with driver's licenses is the fastest route toward establishing a national identification card.

A not completely unfathomable fear is what will be done with all of the information gathered, some sort of Big Brother national database.

At the very least, too many changes should not be adopted unwittingly. Especially under the misguided premise that making driver's licenses more standard state-to-state will necessarily protect the country from terrorism.

The author seems to sort-of get the point that using a document that was originally intended to show proof of some minimal level of skill at driving as proof of identity has created many problems. Of course, politicians are using this conflation to deny the claims that Real ID is creating a national ID (such as appears in this editorial). And because it appears to be "simply standardizing" driver's license information and requirements across the states, many mainstream Americans seem to be swallowing that line. We've already gotten much too used to showing our papers to transact routine business.


Blogger Fawkes said...

Seen todays pledge on Samizdata?

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Bill Statler said...

Re: "People who move will be prohibited from getting a license in their new state of residency until their license in the previous state is canceled."

This is not exactly what the Real ID Act says. The actual wording: the state must "Refuse to issue a driver's license or identification card to a person holding a driver's license issued by another State without confirmation that the person is terminating or has terminated the driver's license."

So maybe they'll just require you to turn in your old out-of-state license when you pick up your new one. That would be de-facto confirmation that you are terminating it, I guess!

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Identity security can be greatly enhanced by renting a mailbox from a private company. Not only are the boxes locked, but the USPS will not forward mail from a rented private mailbox, which means that it is practically impossible, barring official corruption or incompetence, for someone to steal your mail with a USPS forwarding address. As an added bonus, trips to the post office and contact with funky postal employees can be totally eliminated. Boxes are also helpful if require someone to sign for packages while you are at work.

About the fear of remote scanning of ID cards, if RFID chips are installed in the new ID cards then Faraday Cage wallets will become standard. You might worry about your currency being tagged too -- that is why God invented microwave machines :)

Really though, this year there were some 13 million reportedly compromised identities at 60 different US companies. If this continues the inmates of the US gulag will literally beg the politicians for a new identity system to make the stealing stop.

Have a nice day, Comrades!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Mary Lou said...

"Seen todays pledge on Samizdata?"

Yes, that's for the UK, right? No2ID

Might we want to start one here? (Though ours is a bit more difficult ... the Brits are apparently going to have to register, we in the US will just have our drivers licenses morphed into a NID ...)

8:36 PM  
Blogger Unstructuredreality said...

Many states have been mailing ID's for a long time. It is truely amazing at the amount of mail theft going on in urban, suburban areas. Beyond that, any RFID tag will be compromised within the first year of implementation.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Unstructuredreality said...

CMRA's have to live by the same rules a PO box does. You must show at least two pieces of ID and your service can be disrupted at any time if one fails to do so. That said, Mom and Pop places who are just trying to get by in a world full of huge companies specializing in Mail Receiving may accomodate you. Just watch and learn whether or not your choice of business has appeared on the many lists being compiled by the Post Office, the DMV, and Credit Reporting Agencies. One other thing, you can always move once you obtain your card so that your true address does not appear on your card yet you wouldn't have comitted a crime at the time of issuance.

Peace and Good Day

10:05 PM  

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