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Real ID Act Poses Technical Challenges 296

segphault writes "Ars Technica has an article about some of the financial and technological challenges associated with implementing the Real ID Act." From the article: "Opposed by more than 600 independent organizations (including the National Governors Association) and hidden in the depths of a military spending bill in order to make passage easier, the Real ID Act has received heavy criticism from concerned citizens and state government agencies. Despite the fact that relatively sound and effective improvements to driver's license security had already been implemented as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the federal government felt that it was necessary to go well beyond the recommendations of the 9/11 Comission Report by passing a costly and invasive law."
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Real ID Act Poses Technical Challenges

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  • Re:New acronym (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OneOver137 ( 674481 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:16PM (#14467574) Journal
    doubleplus ungood, comrade!
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:20PM (#14467627) Homepage
    It's a depressing sign of just how far we've fallen when the objections to the Real ID act by the states all center around its feasibility, rather than all the reasons it's fundamentally flawed. You know, little things like "the federal government doesn't have the Consitutional authority to mandate a national ID," or "it won't actually do anything to combat terrorism," or "it's a single point source of failure in protection against identity theft," or "it runs completely contrary to the principles this country was founded upon."

    This is the inverse of damning with faint praise. So, blessing with faint criticisms, or some such. It's analogous to arguing with a poster by critiquing his grammar or spelling. Just as that implicitly states you agree with the argument, this implicitly states Real ID is a good idea.

    Problem is, there's nowhere left to run.
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:25PM (#14467661) Homepage
    Well, you're half right. It has nothing to do with terrorism. But I have no idea what makes you think this administration gives two shitake mushrooms about illegal immigration. This is the same administration, remember, that referred to the first effective effort to curb illegal immigration - a bunch of citizens sitting in the desert and calling the border patrol when they found an illegal - "vigilanteism," and then did everything possible to kiss up to Vicente Fox.

    If I had to decide what this really had to do with, I'd go with any or all of:

    a) the ever popular War On (some) Drugs
    b) consolidation of power for its own sake
    c) lining the pockets of government contractors
  • Re:Wrong? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:32PM (#14467726)
    Yeah. It's a good thing that bad guys have no way to obtain official ID.
  • Re:Real ID (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rob_squared ( 821479 ) <.moc.derauqs-bor. .ta. .bor.> on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:33PM (#14467731)
    Nothing. It's similiar to gun legislation or Microsoft product activation. If you want it, you're going to get it. It only hurts law abiding people.

    Also, I think we should all take a moment to cross our fingers and hope that this new fangled thing called "common sense" will really catch on with the general public.
  • Re:Wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jonar ( 945773 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:35PM (#14467755)
    I'll Quote Ben Franklin on this one!

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    Ben Franklin
  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:37PM (#14467768) Homepage
    Think about this for a minute.

    Everyone of you that live in fear of a national ID might tell me that whatever agency gets to build the thing will share with any agency that comes calling? Simple human nature tells me this won't happen. No sharing of information, no real substantial coordination between agencies. Nothing.

    I am concerned that centralizing law enforcement authority will be a more desirable outcome of the legislation, with no intention of ever actually issuing an ID card.

    There are quite a number of commercial information agencies many of which have gov't contracts for your personal data. Let's not forget the latest revelation regarding GWB's authorizing domestic survielance without any oversight.

    Your detailed personal activity is already being collected. Many of you are up in arms because they want to issue a national ID????! It's water under the bridge. Done.

    This guy [] (warning microsoftie) has the same hue and cry about privacy and yet the guy is advocating a system to collect far more detailed activity in a more revocable/authenticatable manner (whatever that means) than what's available now. I asked him to clarify his stance in comments to his blog. Surprise! Neither was the comment posted nor a response given.

    A national ID card won't change a thing.
  • Re:Real ID (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anarke_Incarnate ( 733529 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:40PM (#14467796)
    I can say that most of it is worthless at best and criminal at worst. The 2nd Amd (not the CPU company) says so
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:47PM (#14467846)
    The 9/11 terrorists all had valid IDs.
    911 is the excuse and not the reason - opportunists have been using it to push their own agendas for some time worldwide. For a blantant example, consider a small group called the "Neo-cons" that has been bleating "finish Iraq" for years that got the go ahead after a more relevant military action in Afganistan. Consider that torture is not only considered justifiable by the USA but appears to be a frequently carried out process (although outsourced to deny responisbility).

    Also consider the wide variety of untested silicon snake oil being sold (eg. face recoginition doesn't work properly in the lab yet) by people making a buck out of a lot of dead people in New York. This is what you'll see again in the scramble to get methods to implement this ID system quickly - but it will all be for nothing if your local video library insists on using this ID for their records thus making it possible for others to use your ID for any purpose they wish.

  • by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:47PM (#14467851)
    'nuff said.
  • Re:Wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:47PM (#14467856) Homepage
    That reminds me of this quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

    "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

  • by DDLKermit007 ( 911046 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @06:57PM (#14467927)
    At which point the states reply "oh you mean the funds coming directly from citizens within our state?" It's a quick way to flair up a fast civil war.
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:02PM (#14467974) Homepage
    1) The Constitution states in the "Bill of Rights" set of ammendments some things the government cannot do. Creating a national ID isn't prohibited. Sure, the Constitution doesn't order the government to create a national ID either, but by default what isn't prohibited is allowed.

    I don't want to be rude, but if you actually believe this, you really need to read the Constitution, with a specific focus on the 9th and 10th Amendments. I'm absolutely serious. You are perfectly, exactly, and 100% wrong about this. The Consitution explicitly states that the only things the is allowed to do are those things enumerated in the Constitution; anything else is reserved to the people, or the states. I'm sorry if I'm coming across as an asshole, here; I'm not trying to. But, assuming you live in the US, it's apalling to me that you can be so fundamentally wrong about how our government works.

    2) A national ID may not be the perfect "silver bullet" that kills terrorism once and for all, but it certainly would impose one more difficulty on terrorists.

    Since the 9/11 terrorists were, prior to the attack, completely indiscernible from other, non-terrorist citizens, this is clearly a difficulty they have already overcome.

    3) Identity theft can be done in a great number of ways today. A national ID, if properly implemented, could make identity theft much more difficult. Think about it, if someone shows a fake driver's license from North Dakota with your name on it, what are the chances that the bank teller will be able to detect the fraud?

    As it currently stands, when someone breaks into, say, a credit card database, they get information on a couple million people. This proposes to set up a database with all the identifying information on everybody. If it breaks, the criminal has information on every single American citizen with a driver's license.

    4) Why would a national ID be contrary to any principles the USA was founded upon? Do you think Washington and Jefferson were afraid to be recognized as themselves? There may be moments and places when I prefer to be anonymous, but when I need to show who I am I prefer to have a clear and unambiguous way to prove it.

    Because, if you read the Federalist papers, you'll realize that the federal government was intended to have essentially no contact with the lives of the citizens, only with state governments. The average citizen was supposed to be able to go his entire life without even knowing or caring what the was doing.

    Anyway, you very, very much need to read the Constitution.

  • Re:Real ID (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:02PM (#14467975)
    The 9/11 terrorists all had valid IDs. What's to stop the next batch of terrorists from getting valid Real IDs?

    That's the problem - they had valid ID. But there is a plethora of valid IDs out there. For instance, a birth certificate, which may or may not have foot prints, is considered a valid ID for applying for other IDs. How does a birth certificate IDentify anybody in this day and age?????!!!!! In 99% of cases, it's a non-standard scrap of paper (every county has a different looking one) you happen to have on your person.

    Actually, I don't see the problem with a national ID. Any time this issue comes up, we have a bunch of fear mongering over some such rights.

    But right now, our system is deeply flawed. We are IDed by our Social Security # in a mass of places and financial applications - which is leading to ever increasing Identity theft. Who would have thought? A 9-10 digit number with a name attached, which one has to give out everywhere, to be used in ID theft?

    And we also have the problem of at least 50 different driver's licenses. Not just standards, but different looking. How is someone supposed to acknowledge a fake ID from another state? Much less the problems of someone applying for a driver's license in say Maryland because they lost theirs in Pennsylvania for whatever odd reason.

    A national ID, with biometric info, may not be a bad idea, of telling the authorities YOUR ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE.

    Do I trust the government of implementing this correctly? Well, that's another issue.
  • Re:Wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by monopole ( 44023 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:08PM (#14468022)
    Who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

    Dick Cheney has had how many heart operations and how many implants?

    Although personally I think he is trying to get rid of the good part.
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:08PM (#14468024) Homepage
    Yeah, that's certainly the cop out the is using to sidestep the whole problem that they're trying to do something they have no legal authority to do...but you and I both know it amounts to a mandate. How many states have managed to stay off the teat well enough to not have to cave to federal highway funding requirements?

    Want to bet that federal highway funds will be tied to this if there's any indication that states are deliberately not complying?


    Regarding security versus liberty, I couldn't agree more. What's really depressing, though, is the Big Lie nature of the whole thing. It might not be so frustrating if we actually were getting security at the cost of liberty. But the real crime is we're not; we're pissing away our liberty at an ever-increasing rate, and we've got nothing to show for it (or at least, nothing even close to equivalent value).
  • Re:Wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wsherman ( 154283 ) * on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:22PM (#14468122)
    Why is it wrong for our government to be able to know which of us to protect and who to protect us from?

    Not so long ago, I moved from Michigan to California because of the weather and because the job opportunities in California were a better fit for my training (bio-tech). Basically, I just decided that I wanted to live in California and I moved there. Eventually I had to get a California driver's license and the California DMV is understaffed, inefficient and bureaucratic but on the whole it was an easy process.

    The assumption seemed to be that whatever reasons I had for wanting to live in California were valid reasons. I didn't have to fill out endless paperwork proving that I thought that the State of California had a superior form of government or that I was of desirable minority status or that I would not be a drain on the state's resources or that I was favorably disposed toward the people of California or anything.

    Furthermore, I wasn't stopped at the border of California to have all my possessions inspected for drugs or bombs. I didn't even have to stop at the California border to prove my identity and that I wasn't on some terrorist watch list.

    Now, if California did carefully control its borders and if it carefully screened people to determine who was allowed to live in California then that would probably lead to at least a small decrease in crime and other social problems.

    Personally, though, I'm glad I wasn't stopped at the California border and I'm glad I didn't have to prove to some California bureaucrat that I had the right reasons for moving to California. But that's just me. I personally value individual freedom more than the incremental increase in safety.

    In fact, I would go even further and say that I would like to live in a world where anyone can live where ever they want and cross any border without restriction. The United States would probably see an increase in terrorism (more large buildings getting knocked down, etc.) but I would personally be willing to accept that in exchange for the freedom to travel and live anywhere in the world without government interference.

    Obviously if every border in the world was opened all at once that could create some problems but there is no reason the United States couldn't open its borders gradually: first Canada, then Mexico, etc. Some people think that closing the borders protects US jobs but the reality is that, since corporations can cross borders with ease, if the cheap workers don't come to the corporations then the corporations will go to the cheap workers with the same loss of US jobs. Furthermore, most of the people in the world have never even used a telephone and it will be a long time before they have the resources for the intercontinental travel that it would take to get them to the USA.

    Anyway, there really isn't a right answer to how controlling a government should be. It just depends where the people's values are. Each level of government control will results in certain levels of freedom and certain levels of security. Sometimes there is a trade off between freedom and security and sometimes there isn't. When there is a trade off, the people need to decide which is more important to them.

  • Re:Wrong? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Elenthalion ( 854567 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:24PM (#14468132)
    Wow. I really didn't mean this in the malicious way that it seems to have come across. I simply don't see how it is such a bad thing for us to have a national ID. What freedoms would we lose anyways? In my book, the term "protect" doesn't only mean "military response." It can mean any number of other things, such as "Protecting me from illegal aliens in Southern California (Where I grew up) who vote illegally simply because it is (for some odd reason) illegal to ask for identification." Why is wanting protection from this sort of illegal activity wrong? California is also the state who's former governor wanted to (and even approved) giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens, at the cost of a California driver's license no longer being a legal form of ID in most states. If that had gone through Californians would have to carry a passport to travel within their own country.
  • Also ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:28PM (#14468163)
    It's a good thing that bad guys would never get a job at the agency handling all that information and get access to those databases.
  • by Pluvius ( 734915 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <3suivulp>> on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:48PM (#14468312) Journal
    Despite the fact that relatively sound and effective improvements to driver's license security had already been implemented as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act

    The only "improvements" to license registration I've seen in West Virginia are stupid and ineffective. Law-abiding citizens need an act of Congress to get a license but all a terrorist has to do is forge a couple more documents. I imagine other states that made changes aren't much better.

  • by starwindsurfer ( 702831 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:32PM (#14468627) Homepage
    SS numbers werent suiposed to be a form of ID, the way the old laws are written up, its hard to do it.

    Plus, all the old fogies that remember it will go "HA! I knew you were gonna do it to us" when in fact they allready have done it to us.
  • by IAAP ( 937607 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:55PM (#14468759)
    answering an AC who's long gone because I'm very passionate about this topic.

    AC SaidIf I am taking a flight from somewhere, and some screeners find cocaine in a bag of a fellow passenger, I would hope that they raise a red flag.

    The drug laws are stupid. One of the most toxic substances is completely legal (Alcohol) and yet, something as benign as pot will get you sent away for years.

    And let make this point: How would a drug jeoperdise your safety? I don't give a shit if a drug smuggler is on the plane because he is of no harm. If you want to give up your liberty for some reason or laws that are made by ignorant people - go ahead. I refuse!

  • by MickLinux ( 579158 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @09:20PM (#14468871) Journal
    As it currently stands, when someone breaks into, say, a credit card database, they get information on a couple million people. This proposes to set up a database with all the identifying information on everybody. If it breaks, the criminal has information on every single American citizen with a driver's license.

    I would like to note that within the FBI Hoover building in DC are tons of fingerprint card records, and according to agents whom I worked with, there, they regularly catch people (agents) stealing information, which of course results in their being fired.

    Point being, that among those with a power complex, the bastions of power are very attractive, and the call of abuse of power is also very strong.

    If we have such a database, its very existance will ensure that it is broken into. Therefore, I take strong exception to your phrase, "If it breaks".

  • by MsWillow ( 17812 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @09:41PM (#14468969) Homepage Journal
    for the trans folk like me. I was born male, and transitioned to living as a woman 12 years ago. I've had some surgery, and lots of hormones, and have finally come to terms with life in-between. I really don't need any more surgery to be happy, and that's the whole point of the treatment for gender dysphoria.

    By some judges, I'm legally female. By others, nothing I'll ever do will make me female. I look feminine enough that even nurses do a double-take upon seeing my Social Security card which says I'm male.

    My ID currently has my legal name, my pretty femmme picture, and says I'm female. What will my "real" ID say? And what bathroom must I use when out? Would I cause a stir by using the men's room, when I haven't been "read" as male in 6 years?

    I may not survive the Real ID.
  • Re:Real ID (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @10:57PM (#14469284)
    That's the problem - they had valid ID.

    Sorry, if the problem is "bad people" having valid ID, how is having adding *another* piece of valid ID going to solve the problem?

    A national ID, with biometric info, may not be a bad idea, of telling the authorities YOUR ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE.

    Which doesn't really address his point.

    The guys responsible for 9/11 were who they said they were, and they had ID to prove it. How will this change?

    A piece of ID can't tell anyone that you're going to break a law.

    That's the problem.
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Friday January 13, 2006 @11:15PM (#14469355) Journal

    The consequences for not meeting the law's provisions are severe: those holding licenses from States that fail to meet the requirements by 2008 will not be permitted to fly on airplanes or enter federal buildings.

    Does anyone else remember when "Your papers, please, comrade" was always said in a foreign accent, and as a joke?


  • by runcible ( 306937 ) <runcible@he a d n e> on Saturday January 14, 2006 @12:54AM (#14469651)
    Illegal immigrants are what's going to fuck this program.

    Please don't get the idea that I support this garbage, but follow me for a second.

    What happens when you have a card that only a legal resident of the country can have? That card becomes a de facto proof of citizenship.

    I actually know a good number of illegals, and some of these cats have serious money, and it's all cash.

    So let's take my uncle "Juan", who came over "wet" from Mexico -- he's got a pretty good job, all cash, he's got a DL and a Social Security card he bought, some other guy's name but his picture on the license and all...

    Now where did he get these things? Yes yes, *from the issuing authorities*. Thing is, you get some government drone who makes shit money at the DMV, and you offer him $1500 to print a one-off license out the back door, he doesn't say no.

    Real ID will increase the value of possessing docs like this and do wonders for the market.

    There's this belief that ID forgers operate out of little shitholes in Washington Heights, when in actuality they operate out of the same place you get your legit ID during business hours.

    Reduce illegal immigration, my ass. This lines the pockets of some corrupt low-end government clerks. This does nothing to stop people coming over the border, and everything to further exploit them.

  • by Bastard of Subhumani ( 827601 ) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @08:38AM (#14470604) Journal
    If I am taking a flight from somewhere, and some screeners find cocaine in a bag of a fellow passenger, I would hope that they raise a red flag.
    Why? Last I heard, it doesn't explode. The only way it's a safety issue is if it somehow gets up the pilot's nose.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.