March 21, 2007 1:17 PM PDT

Homeland Security dismisses Real ID privacy worries

ARLINGTON, Va.--A senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security official on Wednesday said he finds privacy concerns prompted by the proposed Real ID regime puzzling.

Stewart Baker, the department's assistant secretary for policy, said a forthcoming system of uniform national identification cards will not put more personal information into the hands of motor vehicle administrators or result in a massive centralized database that's more susceptible to hackers.

In fact, Baker said, the controversial law will improve Americans' privacy. "You can never foresee the future, but every indication is that Real ID is actually going to make it less easy for people to engage in identity theft," Baker told the Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee at its quarterly public meeting here.

Real ID has been a target of criticism since Congress enacted it three years ago as part of an "emergency" Iraq spending bill. Although Homeland Security has tried to defuse criticism by extending deadlines, the law still requires states to reconfigure their drivers licenses and share data. If they don't agree to comply by this October, their citizens won't be able to use their driver's licenses to board planes or enter federal buildings starting on May 11, 2008.

Baker said the process is privacy-protective because it will require Americans to produce legal documents like birth certificates, whose authenticity will be verified, before they can receive a card that meets Real ID protocol. That approach would allow, for instance, airport officials to be more confident in the identity of travelers when it comes time to check them against government watch lists, Baker said.

"You can never foresee the future, but every indication is that Real ID is actually going to make it less easy for people to engage in identity theft."
--Stewart Baker, Department of Homeland Security, assistant secretary for policy

Some states, including Maine, have rejected Real ID on cost grounds, however, and privacy advocates worry about what will happen to data on the IDs' mandatory bar code when it is scanned by banks, bars and other businesses. DHS ruled earlier this month that the data will not be encrypted because of "operational" concerns, such as police being able to easily scan the data from the backs of licenses during traffic stops.

Baker said Wednesday that the department would consider requiring encryption as it writes the final rules, but added: "If you impose encryption requirements that make that exchange of information difficult, you're undermining, not improving, security associated with driver's licenses, we don't want to do that."

Several members of the committee, composed of security companies, academia and nonprofit groups who make policy recommendations to Homeland Security privacy officials, raised concerns about the new system at Wednesday's meeting.

"With what happens now in airports, it doesn't look like it would matter how hard the document was to fake because no one looks at it closely enough to even think about that question," said committee Chairman J. Howard Beales, a George Washington University professor and former Federal Trade Commission official. "Is there a more elaborate process that's envisioned here?"

Baker said Homeland Security was considering taking over the identification check process and putting in stricter controls. Right now, people who check IDs in airport security lines are not generally government employees, he said.

Earlier in the meeting, Jonathan Frenkel, a senior policy adviser with Homeland Security, complained about what he called a rash of "misinformation" about draft national standards for ID cards.

For one thing, he said it's "utter nonsense" that the U.S. government is planning a "Big Brother kind of system" to track American citizens' every move through the cards, as one Missouri state legislator suggested this week.

Frenkel said that if the government really wanted to track cardholders, it would force all citizens to carry the cards. "Since no one is ever required to carry a Real makes no sense that the government would track something that (a person) doesn't have to carry," he said. (Many nations do require their citizens to carry such documents, and some Real ID critics view the law as the first step toward such a system.)

It also isn't true that only a Real ID card will allow a person to board an airplane or enter a federal building, Frenkel said. A U.S. passport issued by the State Department--new ones have RFID tracking chips embedded--would also qualify.

Privacy groups took issue with the agency's assertions. "It is not ridiculous to say that Real ID will create a national identification system that will allow people to be tracked," said Melissa Ngo, director of the Identification and Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "Real ID is ostensibly voluntary, but that just isn't true."

Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Program, said the practical effect of the rules will be a "uniform" card with a machine-readable zone whose information can readily be harvested by outsiders.

CNET's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
Stewart Baker, Real ID Act, homeland security, driver's license, identity theft


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
no duh
"A senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security official on
Wednesday said he finds privacy concerns prompted by the
proposed Real ID regime puzzling."

Comments like this proves conclusively that they just don't get it.
Or at least they hope that *YOU* don't understand the implications
of this.

Papers, please.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's the difference?
I've always had a problem with the Department of Homeland Security. The name itself should conjure up images of Hitler's Germany for any even slightly educated person. Every day the department acts more and more like the fascists our fathers and grandfathers fought to defeat.

Accordingly, I don't need Real ID or a passport? I only need one if I board an airplane or enter a federal building? Let's see here. What exactly does that mean?

I'll need Real ID:
To visit the Social Security office to file a claim?
To file for bankruptcy?
To defend myself against federal charges?
To appear as a witness in a Federal case?
To apply in person for Food Stamps or general assistance?
To apply in person for Medicaid or Medicare?
To enter the Air and Space Museum?
To observe our government inaction (sic)?
To visit the Smithsonian?
The list must be endless.

They are saying this at the same time as "A massive new data mining project planned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security" is being announced.

No DHS won't be tracking the movements of us 'free' citizens. They're just going to analyze all the data--and then what?

The federal government is charged with ensuring unrestricted travel from state to state. Real ID will effectively limit travel, by air at least, to those willing to put up with this crap.

"Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty."

Benjamin Franklin
Posted by Pete Bardo (687 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bureaucrats say: Concern is unfounded.
Bureaucrat: "Pay no attention to people who are concerned about your privacy, we just simply want to make a database with all your personal information in it that is easily searchable and cross linkable to every where you go, every thing you buy, and every thing you say... whats there problem with that?"

Thanks anyhow government, but you do not need this information.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CaptainX says: Bureaucrats are unfounded
Perhaps we should try this out on the bureaucrats for a couple of years, then if it works out, we can add the rest of us.
Posted by CaptainX (8 comments )
Link Flag
Government watch lists?
What is the purpose of GWL? To keep people off the planes. What
does it matter that someone who has gone thru the airport security
theater gets on a plane?
Posted by davez2006 (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If you're going to want to fly or need to enter a federal building (probably more necessary than even I think it is), it's mandentory. I mean, even the post office is a federal building, are you going to need this "real" ID to buy stamps? I don't think everyone in this country is a morron, and believes that load of ****! Je dis, "vivent la révolution!" I don't mean anything too drastic by that, but I think the country has become too corrupt and no longer stands for what it was built on.

Another thing,
"Baker said Homeland Security was considering taking over the identification check process and putting in stricter controls. Right now, people who check IDs in airport security lines are not generally government employees, he said."

I thought a couple of years ago they were going to make all chech-point personnel federal employees? What the HELL happened there? Should we really believe anything the government says anymore?
Posted by aka_tripleB (2211 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Operation: F`THAT
No you shouldn't believe a word.

Even *IF* this is to protect us from terror and used only for *good* eventually someone may be able to use this for their own reasons later down the road.

I do not intend on complying with this.

I will carry vast amounts of ID on my but I will not carry that. If I can't do various things without it, I wont, or ill do it despite the law.. and if they come after me it will just be a display of how terrible this government really can be to people who just don't want to be tracked. I've decided I will go to jail over this if necessary.. I hope the rest of America does not roll over on this. (Nobody anywhere likes this law.. why are people just accepting it..?)
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Link Flag
I thought a couple of years ago they were going to make all chech-point personnel federal employees? What the HELL happened there? Should we really believe anything the government says anymore?

Posted by CustomComputers (51 comments )
Link Flag
Checkpoint children
The SCREENERS at the metal detectors are Federalized, and they do NOT check your ID unless you get extra attention.

Before you get to the screeners, you have people checking that your ID matches your ticket. These are airline employees. This is done for your privacy.

That privacy is out the window once Real ID comes in.
Posted by CaptainX (8 comments )
Link Flag
Papers Please!
The department of Fatherland security only wants to keep you safe.

Pull the other leg Adolph, Real ID is another giant step toward a totalitarian regime.
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Godwin's Law
google that son
Posted by R.Jefferson (136 comments )
Link Flag
"foresee the future"
Right! I see a security organization breaking Constitutional law, forcing citizens into giving up their Constitutional right to privacy.

I see a security organization that says "the ID will be secure from identy theft" but this is not the only problem people fear.

I see a tyrannical security organization that trespasses on peoples privacy, and this organization could use this power against the people insidiously.

This organization is the D.H.S. the Department of Homeland Security.

Stop! the tyranny before it is too late.
Posted by joseph371968 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
We must take back our Freedom now before it becomes to late!!!
Posted by CustomComputers (51 comments )
Link Flag
Should you think that Homeland Security is important, rethink how they handled or mishandled the Katrina Flood. This proposed program will flood our nation with issues that have not even been thought out. This issue deserves the undivided attention of every American.

OUR GOVT. IN WASHINGTON TODAY cannot run the post office, cannot think the basic why concerning the mideast, fails miserably in budgeting, and the freedoms in Iraq I do not need to mention.

Stand Up America...lets Veto this issue ourselves
as the people in charge have failed to see the real future concerning our "FREEDOM IN THE USA"
Posted by CustomComputers (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Katrina was a local failure
The Katrina debacle was the result of screwups on the local level. It wasn't Washington that told cops to break into gun shops and steal whatever they could carry.

Those same cops will be the ones getting all of that information from Real ID . . .
Posted by CaptainX (8 comments )
Link Flag
1984 20 years late
Do need to be reminded of FBI head J. Edgar Hoovers elaborate files on anyone he personally thought "dangerous". This is just one step closer to Big Brother watching where we go, who we speak with,, what we read, what we watch, what we think. Computers never forget, when some bureaucrat demands it, everything you've ever done will be able to be summarized in a nice little report, to be used anyway they wish. The hysteria of 9/11 makes us forget the founding principles of this country: free men bound to no prince, responsible for their own actions, and deciding their own fate. When we give this up, as we are doing when agreeing to be tracked by government for our safety, then the terrorists have achieved their purpose.
Benjamin Franklin said it best:
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
Posted by jobert48 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
1984 was late because it's a government project
That whirring sound you hear is coming from where the Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.
Posted by CaptainX (8 comments )
Link Flag
The Birchers were right
I remember, decades ago, the John Birch Society and others fighting against anything that would work like national ID, including the use of the Social Security number as identification.

They said that it would take away our right to privacy, that there would be abuses, and that nothing in the Constitution permits the government to do it.

The Birchers were laughed out of the tent, and the camel's nose of Federal law came in.

40 years later . . .

Soon after Real ID comes online, you will start seeing laws requiring Real ID for anything which is even remotely affected by a Federal agency, such as buying a box of .22 ammo (kgBATFE), opening a bank account (FDIC), or taking your car in for the smog check (EPA) that you need to register it.

Or paying for your Internet access (FCC).

No, the bureaucrat isn't concerned, he's the one who will USE your private info.

How did we get here? We laughed at the Birchers, secure in the knowledge that such things were only found in the Warsaw Pact satrapies, and could NEVER happen HERE.
Posted by CaptainX (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CaptainX threw this out into the conversation:

"How did we get here?"

How? Some morons voted for Bush, that's how. Impeach his entire
administration and we can start fixing the problem's he's caused.
Otherwise, we've got what ... two more years of this?

Papers please.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Link Flag
What are you talking about...
You already have to show ID to buy ammo (to prove your age),
open a bank account (to prove you are you), and unless you pay
with cash you already show your "ID"(that credit card and check
work the same way) when you pay the cable bill. Don't know
about the car thing that must be a state requirement they don't
do smog checks on cars where I live. Also you have to show ID
(or credit card once again the same thing) to pick up your
airplane ticket. So exactly how is the Real ID going to change
things except standardize American ID's and consolidate a
bunch of databases that ALREADY exists and ALL government
agencies already have access too?
Posted by jones_8099 (177 comments )
Link Flag
Posted by 6TURDS (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
yeah, Brave New World is waiting
What a stupid comment.
I suggest you first learn how to write properly using lowercase.
Second, you should start reading the US Constitution to help clear up your misconceptions.
Third, read "Brave New World", "1984" and other literature to learn about where your "suggestions" would lead.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
I pity you
People like you will be first against the wall when the revolution comes and I'll gladly pull the trigger.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Link Flag
The Envy of Stalin - The North American Union ID: The Data
I'm impressed by all the negative comments regarding the Real ID project until the last one from some dope named "6TURDS". Wake up Mr. Turd and quit shouting! You don't realize that things that are not crimes today could easily become crimes tomorrow.

FROM: <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

The Envy of Stalin
The North American Union ID: The Data

Brent Jessop - March 19, 2007

Tyrants have always collected as much information as possible on their civilians (or serfs or slaves). The more information they have the easier it is to exert control. The control comes in many forms - from the elimination of dissidents to appeasement politics - but in all cases the more information available the more predictable the response.

So how much information does your government keep on you?

We can start with the basics: name, birth date, social security numbers, income, place of work, religion, education, etc. All of this information most people hand over to the government during census time. It is, after all your civic duty (to obey). What other information are they collecting to help enhance the census?

The US Census Bureau plans to capture the latitude and longitude of the front door of every house, apartment and improvised shelter in America. This will be done by an army of 100,000 temporary workers down every street and dusty, dirt road in America armed with a handheld GPS device.

So they know who is living in the house (or impoverished shelter) and exactly where the front door is located. A picture sure would be nice.

The Calgary-based company, Zao, is now in the process of photographing and appraising every household in the United States. "That means every house, commercial building, industrial and institutional structure is being photographed and appraised property-by-property and street-by-street". This process is legal because the photos are taken from public spaces and anyone (to the delight of all peeping toms, pedophiles, stalker, rapists, thieves, tyrants, etc.) willing to pay can access their database. This compliments the satellite photographs of your property as well.

Scary? It gets worse.

Your new North American ID card will contain your fingerprints and other biometric data like retinal scans. This will be pushed through as a new high-tech drivers license in the US under the Real ID act or in Canada as a Hegelian compromise with the American demand for a passport to cross the border. This of course is a very old idea in Canada, but the time seems right to push it through.

Any tyrant would agree that you cannot ignore the children.

European Union children, possibly as young as six, will be subjected to compulsory fingerprinting under European Union rules being drawn up in secret. The prints will be stored on a database which could be shared with countries around the world. Of course this bad idea can only be expanded. European Union ministers of justice and ministers of the interior have proposed a pan-European network of fingerprint and DNA databases.

DNA? The European Union is not alone in that regard either.

In Britain, 750,000 juveniles have their DNA recorded in a national DNA database. This database now includes EVERY newborn child in Edinburgh and the Lothians (with plans to expand). Each file will be closed when the child reaches 16, but it will then be kept on record for up to 75 years.

&#8220;Teachers, police, GPs and social workers [that is over 400,000 people] will be able to access the files to check for signs of abuse. If the child is regularly late for school or their behaviour changes dramatically, the details could be put into the system where it is hoped it will build up a picture of the child's overall welfare.&#8221;

And on this side of the pond, the US may soon be collecting DNA of all suspected criminals, even if they are proven to be innocent of any crime.

Sadly, this is an incomplete list of the information (health records, financial history, credit rating, Google searches, &#8230;) that is being stored on every civilian (or serf or slave) in the western world. But no need to worry, the new ID cards will be consolidated into a single database to make &#8220;protecting&#8221; your information that much easier. If this complete invasion of your privacy does not make your blood boil, then you should just let them install a video camera in your home.

Stalin would be envious.

Posted by Dave_Brown (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
IDK but I'm afraid of the Government.
I charge that everyone has committed a crime and gotten away with it. In fact 41% of Americans admit to smoking marijuana at least once. So.. what you are saying is that you think 41% of America belong in prison because they are bad people who break the law. By doing this we are creating a police state, and even if the motives are good now.. (to stop terror) they may not always be used for good. A system like this has no place in the land of the free.

Myself I follow the laws, not because I think they are moral or just, as my own morals are apparently higher than there own and I do whats right *because* I think its right. I follow laws solely out of fear of the government and what they will do to me if I decide to break them.

I'm not following this one tho.. I will not carry such an ID so you have just make me.. an honest, hard working, native born American, who did no harm to anyone, a criminal.. In your pursuit for security.. you will put me in jail and ruin my life.. and countless others who agree with me. Is this your idea of the country of our forefathers fought and died for?

I say it IS NOT and I will not agree to it, so in the words of one of the first Americans, Patrick Henry, I say "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death." dear sir.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My identity is too easy to steal now...
what if I'm carrying an RFID card? Baker has his head in a sunshine-free area if he doesn't understand why people (and states!) are reluctant to go to a national easy-read standard for privacy concerns. I certainly don't like the idea of being tracked through my id. We've already lost too much to the big-brother, mccarthy-ist patriot act bs in place. Besides, Homeland Security is such a horrendous bureaucracy (read: joke of an agency), that I'm sure info would be inappropriately interpreted, misplaced, mis-targeted and citizens would eventually "never have existed" with DHS' concerted ineptitude and zealotry. Having an RFID nat'l id would soon assure that life here is no different in the most controlled of states, where you get assigned your religion your class, and, essentially, your future, at birth. Our populace is so hoodwinked by "security fears" that soon, we'll have no choice. What a wonderful life.
Posted by coconinoite (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BIG Policy overlook OOPS HERE!!!
&gt;&gt;&gt;Baker said the process is privacy-protective because it will require Americans to produce legal documents like birth certificates, whose authenticity will be verified, before they can receive a card that meets Real ID protocol.&lt;&lt;&lt;

It doesn't matter what Baker said other than &gt;&gt;&gt;it will require Americans to produce legal documents like birth certificates, whose authenticity will be verified, before they can receive a card&lt;&lt;&lt;

That points to only one simple conclusion. Current driver's licenses DON'T require such information. If they did... such a Real ID wouldn't be necessary now would it?

Oops... did I just let the cat out of the bag or what?

It doesn't really matter what ID you're referring to... if the authentication process is in shambles... then the ID is meaningless.

That said... per Baker... he openly admits that our current driver's license bureau doesn't check such because if they did... then the current driver's license could be used instead of the Real ID!!!

Oops... (* CHUCKLE *)

Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stewart Baker lied to Congress (felony) when it asked him many times during his service as Assistant Secretary of Policy about the next-gen identification and commerce credential. He lied of its existence by stating it didn't exist! I have had a prototype on my keychain for years of that next-gen tech standard called "smart wallet" by NIST. It does exist!

For well over seven years the smart wallet tech standard inventor has declined the financial offers of the orchestrators of 911 against our best financial interests caused mostly by the actions of Stewart Baker!

When Tom Ridge was "fired" by President Bush on November 30, 2004 General Hayden (then NSA Director) gave as an explanation to Fox News it was because Ridge failed to fund the next-generation of technologies. This was because the smart wallet inventor 3 days prior blew the dust off of a 19 months old German financing package to become German and break the Buy American laws.

In mid-December of 2004 General Hayden gave a second explanation to Fox News for Ridge?s departure. It was because Ridge failed to dedicate staff to medium and long-term planning. When the explanations were given by General Hayden, the smart wallet inventor heard them and backed-off of its becoming German. The company and invention remain U.S. based!

Stewart Baker as Assistant Secretary of Policy taking-over to undo Ridge?s wrongs, held the post that was supposed to address the DHS? medium and long-term planning needs that Ridge had neglected. He knew the smart wallet was forerunner based on merit for every DHS credentialing program including Real ID because of the wallet?s respect for privacy and infallible security protection, and that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House Office of Homeland Security and DOD Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office Technical Support Working Group established this in 2002 eight months into the smart wallet inventor (worldwide intellectual property holder) declining a 100 % financing offer from the orchestrators of 911. This federal technology policy stemming from the President?s statement that ?the U.S. will technologically remain many steps ahead of its enemies? also was established seven months after the smart wallet inventor was told by an agent of the orchestrators of 911 that everyone in the U.S. who needed to be bought had been.

Stewart Baker?visible by his own track record at DHS as Assistant Secretary of Policy was one of the DHS officials to take office referenced as having been bought by the orchestrators of 911?s agent. He took office, lied to Congress of the smart wallet?s existence even though Congress knew to ask and was asking, and the inventor has the phone and email records to prove we did pursue him. He hasn?t a single excuse of why he lied to Congress. His only excuse is that he is employed by the orchestrators of 911 while also employed as DHS Assistant Secretary of Policy!

The orchestrators of 911 want nothing more than to quash democracy. Stewart Baker is a traitor to everyone residing within the world?s democracies and he has committed treason against the American people! Not only is treason punishable by a court of law, but so is his deprivation of his honest services to taxpayers and felonies when lying to Congress punishable!

Stewart Baker also is the DHS? resident pervert! As General Counsel at NSA he signed a contract to have cameras put into my bedroom and other areas in my house where I dressed. When I blogged at the WP website in early 2006 under the penname DawntheDoormat and exposed the White House NSA spy programs involving putting cameras into private citizens bedrooms, he took revenge and had the illicit images collected from my bedrooms and areas where I dressed posted to the internet. My county Police Commissioner?s office was then called and told to take me into custody on obscenity charges. I am head of federal operations for the smart wallet inventor and its investor of last resort when it goes through a financing dry spell. Baker?s view was if he could cause the lock-up of the financier via his cyber-gang rape, then the company would be forced to fold. God bless the FBI for its intervention! Baker?s partner in crime (other of DHS? most degenerate) is Paul Schneider?the DHS? current Deputy Secretary who was the senior acquisition officer for just weeks when Schneider and Baker signed the illegal contract involving my home for the benefit of the orchestrators of 911.
Posted by DawntheDoormat (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.