February 26, 2007 9:57 AM PST

Digital IDs face opposition among states

CONCORD, N.H.--A forthcoming national identification card will do little to thwart future terrorist attacks and instead will endanger Americans' privacy, speakers at a conference here warned.

The digital ID card requirements, scheduled to take effect in May 2008, are likely to spark a revolt among states concerned about the complexity of the federal rules and the cost of complying with them, said Jim Babka, president of DownsizeDC.org, at the Liberty Forum conference.

Ron Paul
Rep. Ron Paul

"It's going to cost the taxpayers $11 billion, an average cost of $200 million per state," said Babka, whose organization bills itself as a "trans-partisan" effort trying to rein in the federal government.

The 2005 Real ID Act says that drivers licenses and other ID documents issued by state governments must comply with a stringent set of rules devised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that have not yet become public. But dozens of state legislatures are debating whether to stand up to the federal government and oppose federalized IDs, a step that Maine's legislature took in a vote last month.

In an unusual twist, opposition to federalized IDs has united some state motor vehicle officials (who are worried about the cost) and civil libertarian and privacy activists (who are worried about the prospect of a national ID card). Several members of Congress have proposed delaying or repealing the Real ID Act, though Bush administration officials have been steadfast in saying the ID rules are a necessary antiterrorism measure. It's also seen as a way to limit illegal immigration.

"In states across the country, legislators are moving to reform the Real ID Act," said Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute and a member of a Homeland Security advisory panel.

Harper was speaking over the weekend at the Liberty Forum, which is organized by the New Hampshire-based Free State Project. The organization's members are trying to persuade the state legislature, composed of part-time politicians, to adopt measures that lower taxes, increase privacy and limit government intrusiveness. (New Hampshire is a libertarian-leaning state that was the first to signal opposition to the Real ID Act.)

Under the Real ID Act, Harper said, privacy could be endangered by having a centralized database linked to the ID cards. "If we're operating with a single government-issued key, the penalty for wrongdoing...is that we lose our identification card, we lose our identity, we lose our ability to access the services and infrastructure that society offers." (Listen to Harper's comments on CNET News.com's Tech Politics podcast.)

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who has created a presidential exploratory committee, on Sunday took aim at what he described as his colleagues' lack of respect for privacy rights and civil liberties.

"This is what has happened in Washington," he said. "There is no rule of law. There is no respect for the Constitution." Paul was the most tech-friendly member of the U.S. Congress, according to News.com's 2006 scorecard.

Starting on May 11, 2008, Americans will need a federalized ID card--a U.S. passport will also qualify--to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments or take advantage of nearly any government service. States will have to conduct checks of their citizens' identification papers and drivers licenses likely will need to be reissued to comply with the new requirements. State motor vehicle databases also must be linked together.

The forthcoming standard IDs are required to be "electronically readable," a requirement that appears likely to be fulfilled through including a standard magnetic stripe on the back of the card that could be read by government agencies and private businesses. Another possibility is embedding a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip, which is already the case for U.S. passports.

Proponents of the Real ID Act say it's designed to implement proposals suggested by the 9/11 Commission, which noted that some of the hijackers on September 11 had fraudulently obtained state driver's licenses. But not all did: at least one hijacker simply showed his foreign passport and walked onto the airplane that day.

A 23-page report released on Monday by Janice Kephart, a former lawyer with the 9/11 Commission, defended the Real ID Act by calling it a "significant step in enhancing our national and economic security and our public safety." Kephart is now president of 9/11 Security Solutions.

States bowing out of Real ID requirements is "not the way to secure America," the report says. "Embedding identity security into state-issued (ID card) systems will take significant planning to fulfill the requirements of Real ID and significant financial resources for the 'brick and mortar' start-up costs. Congress must step up to the plate and make securing of identity documents the national priority that our citizens deserve."

Also on Monday, a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., began. The Government ID Technology Summit includes officials from states including Michigan, Maine and Massachusetts talking about the Real ID Act and digital identification.

See more CNET content tagged:
Real ID Act, ID card, legislature, VeriSign Digital ID, opposition


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It's good to hear that there actually are some people in power who would like to stop privacy risks from going forward.

Anyone who thinks that "Real ID" will stop terrorists is, quite simply, not thinking. To believe that means that you believe that nobody who would ever become a terrorist could ever get a valid ID card. To believe that requires, furthermore, that no US citizen, whether born here or a legal immigrant, would do anything. Talk about your make believe world!
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What do you expect
from the Department of Fatherland, oops, Homeland Security.
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Link Flag
Who are the terrorists?
You forget that US citizens are the terrorists. Every one of us must be stopped from living our lives free from filling out a form for everything and being RFID tagged behind the ear. After all, the nanny state has determined that we are a danger to others and ourselves. In that context I'd say Real ID works pretty well against the terrorists. You know history shows that there was another King George who once had a terrorist problem... Declaration of Independence anyone?
Posted by gunplay (18 comments )
Link Flag
I wonder
if I'm the only one that's noticed that 99% of this administration's "war on terror" appears to involve tracking, spying and otherwise invading the privacy of people "over here".

Apparently the idea of Iraq was somehow supposed to take the war to the terrorists. Unfortunately it appears that someone forgot to tell the DHS, because they seem hell bent on fighting them here.

Don't get me wrong, I'll be pleased when terrorism as we know it will be over with the introduction of the Magic Anti Terrorist ID Card. My guess is they have some sort of siren or flashing light system that goes off when terrorists get hold of them or make perfect copies for 9c in China.

Now I'm the first to admit that I'm hardly an expert on terrorism. I'm fully aware that the President and most of Congress (that's Democrats too btw) seem to think every other American is a sleeper agent working on behalf of Al Qaeda.

But it truly seems odd to me that (despite the obviously coincidental benefit to those corporates that get the fat contracts to produce these cards) no one has thought of actually taking a look at a few overseas people too - you know, just to be sure that all the terrorists haven't in fact arrived already, and are ready to queue up for their insidious plot revealing ID cards.

I think it would surprise one or two people that some of those living here actually don't want to blow up planes or otherwise commit mass murder.

Still it will definitely be a relief when this is all over - because if it wasn't going to be fixed by something as expensive and invasive as this (not forgetting the billions we've spent already tapping our phone calls, gathering out 'net data and otherwise spying on Americans), then why would we be doing it at all.

No this will definitely be the ticket, and May 2008 will be joyously regarded as the end of terrorism as we know it.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I will Boycott
I will go along with many thousands who have chosen to not participate. We will resist the Real ID act. It is a chain around the neck of Free America and does nothing to stop terrorist.
Posted by BattleAce7101 (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
something to consider ...
Seeing as it's illogical to think this will do *anything* to curb
terrorism in any real way, maybe the whole point of the "real
ID's" is to make it *look* like Bush is fighting terrorism while
simutaneously attacking our constitutional rights.

Keep in mind that 9/11 happened because Bush allowed it. He
could have stopped it, he knew it was coming. The FBI was
watching the 9/11 terrorists already, they *knew* they were here
and they *knew* they were taking commercial flying lessons. Yet
the only thing they did was to make sure Bush was a thousand
miles away in Florida when the attack happened.

So Bush cooks up a war, using even more lies to sell it to us, the
ignorant people who are now very angry because of 9/11. We've
discovered that truth as well - the entire premise for the Iraq
invasion was based on lies and misinformation.

So how does one counter this kind of political suicide? What if
you used more lies and distortions to sell the ignorant public the
idea that the whole problem wasn't a lying, warmongering,
blundering idiot in the White House, but instead the fact that
there is no federal ID card?

Laughable, truly it is. Except for the fact that it's working, of
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This will not lead to safety
This "Real ID" law will not lead to the United States being any safer in the long run. Let's face facts: most of the terrorists who did 9/11 were in the country LEGALLY and simply overstayed their Visa's.
They had ALREADY PASSED every single test that the government does in order to make sure that someone is not a terrorist.

What we need to do is vett the people who are coming to this country better and also FASTER (some people have been waiting for visa's for more than 10 years, while others got them within 3 weeks!).

The real motive behind these "Real ID's" is the old 1984 scenario in the book of the same name. Big brother is coming people, and he is using your unjustified fear of terrorists to get you to give up your right to go wherever you want without having to 'show your papers'.

We have had exactly 2 terrorist attacks from foreign people in the past 50 years on American soil. That less terrorist attacks than we have had from AMERICAN CITIZENS, which is in the HUNDREDS, if not thousands.
Posted by Leria (585 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Same old game
Ever since bush took office and listed the programs that he intended to put into law his people have continued to resubmit ones that were either DOA or otherwise turned down. The national I'D program which Washington would dearly love to keep track of all citizens and their private affairs is another instance of this. It was soundly shot down previously, but they are not giving up. In the name of 'Homeland Security' (isn't everything they want to run down our throats packaged as 'Homeland Security', it is now resubmitted as a passport alternative and 'national' drivers license. Make no mistake about it. This is just the latest attempt by Big Brother to keep tabs on all of its citizens.....nothing more, nothing less!

Say NO to spying on U.S. citizens by Big Brother
Posted by vnzjunk (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Enter Fascim
Only thing left for this nazi administration to do is coral the population under the whole show me your papers ruse. As far as the whole opening bank accounts issue is concerned you only need to show a social security card or drivers license if you are a citizen. Bank of America in cooperation with the nazi (Bush) administration now offers bank accounts for illegal aliens without social security numbers or id's. So much for the 9/11 comission. The real truth would be " yes we destroyed the WTC so we could go to war and enslave the population using the same propagands that hitlers' regime did. Anyone remember the burning of the reichstag building? That is the same playbook our government is using now. We must resist and insist our freedoms be restored and protected. " ANY MAN WHO WOULD SACRIFICE LIBERTY FOR SAFETY DESERVES NEITHER " Benjamin Franklin
Posted by nuckelhedd (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This will be a disaster
Read the available information on RealID features and scope. It's designed as a citizen monitoring and revenue collection tool. Monitoring for the state, who'll re-sell collected information, and revenue collection for those who planned the scheme and who now own the companies who'll win the contracts. It's a complete boondoggle sold through fear and deceit.

Write your reps. If we make the effort more states will back out and it'll die with its supporters. Let's solve problems instead of contributing to the wealth of a few and the further decline of our nation.

1. a project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.
2. to deceive or attempt to deceive.
3. to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.
Posted by inthewoods (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Proxies already solve the problem
Heres an easy one.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mysecureisp.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.mysecureisp.com</a>
Posted by talledega500 (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Of course Kephart supports it
not only did she help come up with the idea, she now has company that stands to profit from such fear mongering. Government has yet to produce a document immune from forgery, and the fact that you can identify someone doesn't mean you can tell if they're a terrorist or not.

The whole idea sounds a bit too Orwellian for my taste.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/05/real_id.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/05/real_id.html</a>
A good read IMO, and by someone who actual has credentials in security, unlike the politicians that drafted the RealID act etc.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
if the Republicans win again, well, sad to say, you cant blame anybody but yourself.
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Link Flag
All very good points
But you are all missing some key issues. First, what happens when someone leaves a laptop somewhere where it is stolen with the entire nation's personal information on it? Ok, they won't use a laptop for this (at least we had better hope they don't), but like it would be that long before someone breaks into the system with such bounty on the other side. One **** up (yes-strong langue) and the entire nation will fall into the worst depression that the world has ever seen.

Second, the real boondoggle (if that's a real word) is the "War on Terror." What, if we kill this person, that person, and a couple other people we'll win? No. New threats will "mysteriously" pop up that Bush, or some other arrogant idiot, will say we need to eliminate to end terrorism. And all this happening despite new restrictions on US citizens. How about we stop being so lenient on the real criminals? Let's stop giving criminals rights that are not there for citizens. Let's stop giving immunity to people that come here by breaking our laws or break our laws after they get here. We need to go after guilty, not the innocent.
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not particularly useful
I live in a former communist country, now a member of the European Union.
What I feel necessary to add is that we've had the system of compulsory centralized personal ID since the 1950's. It still is valid now too. Except it's been upgraded. It's all databases now. This only helps the government know everything there is to know about you. Has not stopped terrorist acts, illegal imigration (we have that too, mainly Afghans , Bangladeshians but also Africans and people from Central Asian former USSR)or frauds and forgeries for that matter. All it does is make life easier for the government people and particularily for the police.
One has to present an ID act (and a copy of that is kept in the customer file) each time one makes a bank deposit, loan, withdrawal, account opening. It is also compulsory in property purchase, employment, contracting utilities, etc. Without it you are nobody. You don't exist. Companies can not even hire you. It's forbidden by law.
Posted by Kostagh (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Loss of our Freedoms
Well, it seems no one has read George Orwell's book "1984." Cameras everywhere, RFID chips everywhere--most recently suggested for animals, but I expect for humans before long.

First Amendment rights abridged, admittedly for actors who state their opinions and then have to go to rehab in order to salvage their careers.

Scarier still is the loss of freedom to laugh--try having a cartoon in one of our newspapers which offends someone's religion. Denmark tried it (we didn't dare) and see what happened --editors resigning and newspapers being threatened.

Certain localities in the U.S. try to pass laws which are rather ridiculous--one was a ban on selling bullets. Another that is pending is to forbid cell phone usage, AND eating or smoking in one's vehicle.

I am retired and thus able to watch a lot more news now and am witnessing a nationwide loss of sense of humor and personal freedoms (strip searching old ladies and children at the airport, for example, in the name of safety).

I thought we lived in a democracy.
Posted by onekirby (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We never did live in a democracy
You could argue that we lived in a republic but the truth has been more of an Oligarchy.
Posted by BattleAce7101 (51 comments )
Link Flag
Saddened by the direction this is going
I am saddened that Digital ID's are such a good idea to so many people in authority. Saddened to think that this gargantuan identification process is 'worth it' in order to slow down or stop relatively few individuals who intend to do harm to our country. Saddened to put more of our intimate information 'online' making those with that information more powerful over our lives and making more personal information vulnerable to wrongful dissemination. Saddened that the level of honesty in our country has been measurably declining every decade for the last several decades. It was a bold and daring venture to set up our country as a modified classical republican government. Read Michael Sandel, "Democracy's Discontent", we are lucky to have the freedoms that we enjoy in our country. With personal integrity, with more character building experiences we can pull up and out of the direction we are heading, namely: Giving those in authority reasons to control our lives becuase of our inability to control ourselves. Trust slips away quickly in the face of fear. We must be trustworthy and maintain our personal responsibility for our lives to the degree that we are able. If not, we will have to trust in the 'powers that be' to have increasing responsibility over our lives. On balance, I choose personal responsibility over giving it away.
Posted by jefframse (20 comments )
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