PermaLinkPlease Consider Contacting Your Senators TODAY About the "REAL ID" Act
07:52:36 AM

I don't believe that I fall anywhere near that category of people that I (not very affectionately) refer to as "privacy nuts". I believe that we must all expect to be required to choose on occasion between yielding a certain amount of privacy or not participating in certain activities. We all get draw the line for ourselves, and that's fine. That said, however, there must be very serious consideration given to any federal law that mandates any change in where the trade-offs fall between privacy and the privileges of participation in public or private activities. The "REAL ID" Act, which has already passed in the House of Representatives, will be voted on in the Senate today. It has not been adequately debated. There have been no hearings, no committee debates, and no floor debate. It passed the House by virtue of being attached to a military spending bill. Although there is little chance of it being defeated today due to the necessity of funding troops in Iraq, voicing your opposition to the way in which REAL ID is being passed is still important. Whether or not you think the law is a good one, the method simply stinks.

Personally, I think several aspects of the law stink.

  • It is a de facto national ID card, with decentralized administration at the state level, but with centralized standards and centralized tracking.

  • It requires that these ID cards be machine-readable, but leaves any standards for securing data to federal bureaucrats whose interests are best served by weaker rather than stronger standards.

  • Identity is not security. REAL ID does nothing at all to make us safer.

  • To the extent that REAL ID does become accepted as secure proof of identity, it makes identity theft fraud that much easier for criminals to get away with and that much more damaging to victims.

  • It is an unfunded mandate that requires states to spend money that would be better spent on actual security measures.

After reading about this issue on Bruce Schneier's blog, I followed the link that he provided to and used the simple form that they provided to send a fax to both of my state's US Senators. In that fax, I wrote to urge them to use any parliamentary means at their displosal to delay the REAL ID Act so that it can be adequately debated, and if no such means are available then to cast a protest vote against the entire bill. The real fight against REAL ID will follow in courts and in funding, but setting the stage today by letting your Senators know that you stand against passing REAL ID without debate is still important.

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Comments :v

1. Nathan T. Freeman05/10/2005 09:49:09 AM

Read about this matter this morning, and my thought was "man, it's nice to be in South Africa, where government is wonderfully inefficient."

What's really distressing to me is that the machine readable format stuff might be RFIDs. If that happens, identity theft will go through the roof. You could literally carry a reader in your jacket that would sniff out ID cards within a few feet of you.

Seen Minority Report? There ya go. *sigh*

2. Chris Linfoot05/10/2005 09:54:49 AM

Identity cards? Yes.

We have a hairbrained scheme like that here in the UK too.

It was in the Queen's speech at the beginning of the last parliament but did not make it into law before the general election was called and parliament dissolved.

Of course, it is back on the agenda now but with the governemnt's reduced majority and the unpopularity of the idea, it may well end up being watered down.

Still - as currently drafted it seems remarkably similar to the proposal over there.

I wonder how that can be.

3. Nathan T. Freeman05/11/2005 08:46:32 AM

And the bill passed 100-0.

Ah... how I'm going to love staying in the 3rd world, where at least the guys who want to violate your rights have the courtesy to admit their criminals.

4. Bruce Perry05/11/2005 04:08:31 PM

As the Real ID bill was attached to a must-pass spending bill for the Iraq war (oops, I meant peacekeeping), there was little hope it would be voted down. After all, we've seen what happens to politicians who get labelled as "against our troops".

There is some hope though. IIRC, it doesn't take effect immediately. There may be time to repeal it.

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