March 09, 2007

Idaho Opts Out Of REAL ID Act

Idaho's legislature has passed House Joint Memorial 3 and rejected participation in the REAL ID Act, according to the ACLU and the Idaho legislatures bill status site. The battle wasn't a very hard fought one, either. Kudos to the politicians in Idaho who have decided that a national ID card is a bad idea on many different fronts.

On a vote of 19 to 14, the State Senate today approved House Joint Memorial 3. The State House of Representatives had approved the bill unanimously on February 20. While the bill does not require the signature of Idaho Governor Butch Otter, he has also been a vocal critic of the Real ID Act.

The bill states in part that Idaho, "shall enact no legislation nor authorize an appropriation to implement the provisions of the Real ID Act in Idaho, unless such appropriation is used exclusively for the purpose of undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the costs of implementing the Real ID Act or to mount a constitutional challenge to the act by the state Attorney General."

In other REAL ID related news the Arizona Republic is reporting that Arizona's State Senate is set to approve Senate Bill 1152 which says, in plain and easily understandable English that Arizona will not be participating in the REAL ID Act.

“Section 1. Title 28, chapter 2, article 2, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 28-336, to read:

28-33628-336. REAL ID act; implementation prohibited

This state shall not participate in the implementation of the REAL ID act of 2005. The department shall not implement the REAL ID act of 2005 and shall report to the governor and the legislature any attempt by agencies or agents of the United States DEPARTMENT of homeland security to secure the implementation of the REAL ID act of 2005 through the operations of that department.”
Sadly, no penalties are mentioned for government entities who attempt to "secure implementation of the REAL ID Act" other than reporting them to the legislature or the government. I think a lengthy prison sentence would be appropriate, perhaps busting rocks out in the desert would be a fitting penalty.

Other states are also poised to join Maine, Arizona and Idaho in striking out against the REAL ID Act.
...Georgia, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. Bills rejecting Real ID have also been introduced in Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and West Virginia, with more expected in the coming weeks.
Sadly, the state of Indiana, of which I am a resident, lacks the fortitude to tell the Federal government that they will not bow down. The Indiana legislature has had to concern themselves with pay raises, anti-gay marriage amendments, lottery privatisation and HPV vaccinations for school aged girls. Keeping the people of Indiana free of a national ID card and increasing their privacy is the farthest thing from their minds. At least there will be some states which refuse and manage to carry the ball. Indiana will (hopefully) ride their coat tails to a REAL ID free country.

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cross posted from UnCivil Defence

March 05, 2007 fights the Real ID Act

A long email from about the Real ID Act and how they plan to fight it:

Subject: How vs Why of Real ID
Date: 3/5/2007 12:17:20 PM Central Standard Time

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released 162 pages of proposed regulations for the Real ID Act. The bill was (and basically still is) slated to take effect by May, 2008.

There's going to be a ton of things to say about this topic, as well as more than one kind of action to take on it. Over the next couple of weeks we will break down the complex web of information into simple bite-sized chunks for you.

But the most important thing you'll need to know today is that there are bills now offered in both the Senate and the House to repeal (not delay) the implementation of the Real ID Act. They are gathering co-sponsors and steam.

But this is going to be a tough battle. We'll need to do everything we can to fight it effectively.

* That means, we're asking you to please use our convenient Congressional Contact System to send a message of support for the bills to repeal (not delay) the implementation of Real ID.

* It also means that we need to continue making progress on monthly pledges to stay in this fight.

The thesis of today's message is that surveillance is not necessarily security, and that as a technique for crime and terrorism protection, surveillance is nowhere near as important as motivation.

Let's start with a hypothetical scenario.

You've seen it in the movies: A determined and experienced criminal learns that a very valuable art exhibit is coming to town, but to get in and see it, one must produce a valid ID, pass through checkpoints, and view it, while lasers, cameras, and security agents keep guard. Yet the thief succeeds. He gets the highly prized art.

Now, the movie entertains us by focusing on the "how" -- showing us what clever method the thief employed to secure his prize. Inevitably, we learn that the burglar exploited some vulnerability of the security system.

As you leave the theater, you might get the impression that sprinkling additional technology or resources (money) on the problem might've stopped the master thief -- the exhibiting museum could've foiled his plan.

Many things in life are determined by the quality of questions we ask. Protecting valuable art, or ourselves from terrorist attackers is no different. The right question is important.

The better question to ask if one is seeking to _prevent_ crime is "why" -- "What's the motivation for doing it?"

For the art thief, perhaps you can make the steal more expensive than it's worth.

But what if someone is willing to lose their life in the process of killing others -- in the belief that their cause is eminently just and that they will receive eternal reward? What then? Is more surveillance really going to work? Is sprinkling technology on the problem really going to protect us?

The art thief was focused on one exhibit. But if someone is a suicidal terrorist, they can spring up anywhere.

Let's be honest with ourselves here: surveillance technologies are valuable for forensics AFTER the crime, but they are like tissue paper in stopping a determined terrorist. Need proof? We have some of the 9-11 hijackers on camera going through a security checkpoint and presenting their IDs at Logan Airport in Boston.

The 9/11 Commission, as quoted by the Department of Homeland Security, described the need for Real ID this way: "For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons . . . All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of identification document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities."

"Would have assisted them . . . in boarding planes?" Did you catch that?

THEY DID ACQUIRE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS -- from the government no less! And they did so in criminal (fraudulent) fashion!

Criminals doing things, criminally: who would've thunk it? There ought to be a law!

OK, so we make it harder to create fraudulent identification. That's the approach the federal government is taking with Real ID.

But "harder" means long lines at airports for YOU, longer lines and great inconvenience at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, again, for YOU. And estimates by an association of state legislators place the cost for implementation of Real ID at $11 billion (we'll have more to say about this in an upcoming message) -- that's $200 million, average, per state.

But maybe it's all still worth it? That would keep them off of airplanes, right?

Leaving aside that airplanes are but one type, of hundreds of types of potential targets, the answer would still be, "Not necessarily."

If the federal government creates a one-size fits all ID system, then it becomes much easier to clone -- to create a fake. Again, the problem is one of motivation -- or more precisely, incentives.

Identification and licensing is valuable for so many things. Without it, you can't drive a car, board a train or plane, buy tobacco, alcohol, or a gun. You need it to vote, open a bank account, or cash a check. You even need it to get a job.

At a recent talk by CATO scholar Jim Harper, an expert on the Real ID Act and other identification issues, the audience learned that the income difference available for someone with a working ID versus someone without such documentation (say, an illegal immigrant) approaches $15,000 per year. The going market rate is around $800 for a real good fake, state, ID.

Is that a bargain, or what?

But triple the price if you wish -- quadruple it. Will there be a market for super, national, one-size-fits-all, "Real" ID? And will terrorists pay even more still, if they're determined enough? . . . is $3,000 a prohibitive expense for someone looking to "do another 9-11?"

And will it be more profitable for black market forgery artists to focus their creativity on cloning and faking the national super ID -- the "Real" ID? Will these fakes be readily available?

You bet they will. Motivation is what matters here. The incentives are powerful and alluring.

This problem is directly comparable to counterfeiting Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs, a.k.a. cash). The $20 note needed refinement and redesign in 1998, and once again, in 2003. The $1 bill has been with us for quite some time, and yet the Bureau of Printing and Engraving says no plans are underway to update it.

Why? Well, counterfeiting $20 is much more lucrative than forging $1 bills. The technological advances of the forgerers progresses, locking the counterfeiters and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, in something of an "arms race." It's quite expensive to us.

Because FRNs are legal tender for all debts -- one-size-fits-all money -- then it remains lucrative to clone cash.

In many ways, this issue also reminds us of prohibition.

* Take gun prohibition: When an area has strict gun control laws, the people most vulnerable are the law abiding citizens. They are frequently disarmed. Criminals, by definition, don't obey gun control laws. This gives them an advantage against their prey. But it certainly doesn't stop gun violence.

* Take drug prohibition: When a substance is banned, a black market steps in to meet the demand, at great profitability. Drugs even appear in prisons -- getting past guards, checkpoints, walls, cameras, etc.

It's naive and even dangerous to believe that laws are capable of keeping guns off the streets or even drugs out of prisons. Prohibition just doesn't work in either instance. New currency technology and Treasury Agents don't keep counterfeit bills out of circulation either.

And all the Kings Men, won't be able to devise an ID that is impervious to the creative efforts of very motivated criminal forgerers.

A whole new Humpty Dumpty industry is likely to crop up here, and no one is accounting for the bottomless pit of expense to our government (and that means to you the taxpayer), both in trying to put this flawed Real ID back together, again and again, as well as combat those forgery artists who creatively clone it.

The Real ID Act is a _fundamentally_ flawed idea. It came about by asking the wrong question: how, instead of why. Surveillance technologies are mere prohibition and they can't stop a very determined criminal. If anything, this Real ID will create a lucrative market for criminals (including terrorists) to tap into before they commit their terrible acts.

Please, send your representatives in Congress a message, right now, in support of the House and Senate bills that repeal (not delay) the implementation of the Real ID Act.

And then, please, help us with this public education effort by making a generous contribution or monthly pledge.

Also, please, forward this message to friends or blogs you think might be interested.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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March 02, 2007

The REAL ID Rules Are Out

After foisting their national ID card scheme on us, the Department of Homeland Security has finally got around to putting out their requirements for federal ID cards (.pdf). The price tag has climbed, too. What was once a paltry $11 billion has now climbed to $23 billion and there is no expectation on my part that it won't grow even larger.

Homeland Security officials released long-delayed guidelines that turn state-issued identification cards into de facto internal passports Thursday, estimating the changes will cost states and individuals $23 billion over 10 years.

The DHS has also offered an extension of their deadline till December 31, 2009 for states that apply.

There are a number of areas in these rules that should concern people. The decided lack of any provisions for privacy and the creation of multiple databases containing your information are worrisome, as are the rules concerning retention of documentation. Copies of your birth certificate and Social Security card must be retained by the issuing state for 7-10 years. If you were to move during that period there would be multiple copies of your documents in many different locations, making identity theft a real worry.

The interconnected databases, which will be open to multiple agencies from the 56 states and territories, will be required to be in potentially hackable electronic formats. They will also be required to be easily accessible to the average government employee, that means unsecured in real terms. On the upside there is no mention of RFID being the "machine readable technology" of choice, instead opting for "PDF417 2D bar code standard". Please note that this does NOT mean that RFID will not be included as one of the required "Physical security features" that DHS requires. It could still very much be in the mix as a security feature. Cards will be required to have the following information encoded on the card:
(a) Expiration date.
(b) Holder’s name. The machine readable portion of the card must have at least
125 characters to permit capture of the full name history, including full legal name and all
name changes.
(c) Issue date.
(d) Date of birth.
(e) Gender.
(f) Address.
(g) Unique identification number.
(h) Revision date, indicating the most recent change or modification to the visible
format of the driver’s license or identification card.
(i) Inventory control number of the physical document.
All of this info will be required to be on the face, as well. All cards will have to have a digital picture that meets very stringent quality requirements, indicating that it must be able to be read by facial recognition software, (such as Digimarc's).

With the increased price tag and rules we may well see more states joining the anti-REAL ID Act bandwagon, (unfortunately, the state of Indiana is unlikely to be one of those given the nature of this states relationship to the federales). Personally, I have no hope that this odious program will continue to be forced upon the people of this country, no matter what. Take a look at the .pdf and see what we are facing now that the Crypt Keeper has issued the rules for the new National ID Card. Make no mistake, either! This IS a national Federal ID Card, the new rules make that abundantly clear via provisions for non-REAL ID Act cards at the state level. They've dropped all pretenses of this being anything other than a federal ID.
Non-REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards.
(a) States that issue driver’s licenses and identification cards that do not satisfy
the standards of this Part after May 11, 2008, must ensure that such driver’s licenses and
identification cards--
(1) Clearly state, on their face in bold lettering, as well as in the machine readable
zone if the card contains one, that they may not be accepted by any Federal agency for
Federal identification or other official purpose; and
(2) Have a unique design or color indicator that clearly distinguishes them from driver’s
licenses and identification cards that meet the standards of this Part.
Now all we have to do is continue the fight.

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(Crossposted from Uncivil Defence)