Thursday, June 25, 2009

Of Governor Sanford

This proposal is one more step away from the Founding Fathers' vision of a limited federal government. Our greatest homeland security is liberty, and the Founding Fathers believed our greatest threat to liberty was a central government grown too powerful. Accordingly, they set up checks on federal power by vesting authority at the individual and state levels.

REAL ID disrupts this delicate balance of power in two ways. First, it turns the Founders' logic on its head by forcing states to act as agents for the federal government in creating a national ID card for federal purposes. Needing a REAL ID to board a plane or enter a federal building would also change the balance of power in something as seemingly insignificant as a visit to a member of Congress."

             -- Gov. Mark Sanford, "Real ID Side Effects," Washington Times, April 14, 2008.  

BTC Opinion

The picture that sits atop every current headline that posts on this blog is one of Governor Mark Sanford surrounded by those opposed to Real ID legislation. It is representational of his committment to State boundaries over federal ID policy, using the 10th Amendment.

Lately, South Carolina has not been doing the best it can.  The State's point of compromise is cooperation on the incorporation and use of biometric software and identifiers in their license programs.

Mark Sanford has done good work for the people of South Carolina and for the Anti-Real ID movement, who still need him.  Truth and humanity are often more interesting than the worst pulp fiction.  His contribution to the Anti-Real ID effort is still needed.  He is one of the few Governor's with any backbone where Real ID has been concerned.  As he hurts, we hurt; because we need him to represent us and to help us go against the run on privacy, identity security and the Bill of Rights compromised in both the Real ID Act and the PASS Act.  He has the power to do it.  The only real question is: after stepping up to have his heart and guts ripped out by the media, when can he come back to work?

Don't quit on us, Mark.  Come back to work and help us.  We need you.  You're what we've got.

IMMIGRATION: Dems full of Schumer

"I'm sure the civil libertarians will object to some kind of biometric card -- although . . . there'll be all kinds of protections -- but we're going to have to do it. It's the only way," Schumer said. "The American people will never accept immigration reform unless they truly believe their government is committed to ending future illegal immigration."
Generations of Americans have lived without biometrics. It is not the only way.
BTC Commentary - Schumer, misunderstands and underestimates the fiscal limits of both the American people's patience and tolerance for any further insolvency or compromise over the integrity of something as personal as our identity. In short, the U.S. Congress does not respect or uphold a standard suitable for the American public if they persist with biometric identifiers against the 4th Amendment. They misrepresent the U.S. people.

Senate Democrats Address Immigration

c/o Washington Post , Spencer Hsu

Senate Democrats outlined plans yesterday to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, including a requirement that all U.S. workers verify their identity through fingerprints or an eye scan.

Speaking on the eve of a White House summit with congressional leaders on immigration, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said a national system to verify work documents is necessary because Congress has failed to crack down on unscrupulous employers and illegal immigrants with fake documents.

"I'm sure the civil libertarians will object to some kind of biometric card -- although . . . there'll be all kinds of protections -- but we're going to have to do it. It's the only way," Schumer said. "The American people will never accept immigration reform unless they truly believe their government is committed to ending future illegal immigration."

By announcing his plans, Schumer, who chairs the Senate's main immigration subcommittee, ushered in what President Obama has signaled will be his next major legislative campaign, after the economic stimulus plan, health care and energy.

Schumer said legislation should secure control of the nation's borders within a year and require that an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants register with the government and "submit to a rigorous process to convert to legal status" or face immediate deportation. Rejecting the euphemism "undocumented workers," he said: "Illegal immigration is wrong -- plain and simple."

A senior White House official said Obama is open to all of Schumer's proposals, including his ID plan, saying that "he wants to listen, he wants to talk. All of it is on the table."

Hispanic leaders and immigrant advocates have pressed Obama to fulfill a campaign pledge to tackle the issue this year. In response, House and Senate Democratic leaders voiced new optimism this week that a deal can be struck before election season heats up next spring.

"I think we have the floor votes to do it," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Tuesday. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) added that action could begin "as early, perhaps, as this fall."

Seeking to build momentum, Obama will meet today with at least 20 House and Senate members from both parties, officials said. But White House aides have worked to lower expectations, noting Congress's inability to deliver legislation to former president George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007, and vowing to proceed with debate this year only with strong bipartisan support.

"The president wants to make it clear he is serious," a senior White House official said yesterday. "He also wants to make it clear he's going to need strong partnership and leadership on both sides of the aisle to get the right policies moving."

Key Republicans reacted cautiously, saying they would work with Obama if he thinks a deal is possible.

"What we need now is not another photo op at the White House," Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the ranking Republican on Schumer's panel, said Tuesday. "What we need is a plan from the president of the United States."

In pushing Congress to tackle the subject for the third time in four years, advocates say a bigger Democratic majority, Republican unease over the party's waning support from Hispanics and public demand for solutions will deliver a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate.

But the plan faces obstacles, opponents said, including rising competition for jobs in a collapsing economy, and continued resistance to granting "amnesty" to illegal immigrants.

"Every Democrat that's in a competitive district knows that will be the question next year: Why did they vote for more foreign workers while 14 million workers are unemployed?" said Roy Beck, founder of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for limiting immigration.

Also unclear is what backing might come from business groups. Schumer's priorities did not include expanding a guest-worker program, which employers sought. Instead, Schumer said that any deal must also create mechanisms to attract highly skilled immigrants, control the flow of low-skilled immigrants and protect native-born workers.

A system to access legal workers "is non-negotiable from a business point of view," said Tamara Jacoby, president of the ImmigrationWorks USA lobby, adding: "But we're open to a discussion of what that legal mechanism should be."

Beak Barcodes for Chickens

BTC Comment

I guess if your into factory farming and you want to debase the sentient value of a chickens life you can now barcode their little beaks.  While it's not the most respectful, it may be a remedy for people who want alternatives to the U.S. National Identification Systems.  

Chickens to get 'barcode on beak' ID

IRELAND-A TEAM of Irish scientists has devised a method of identifying individual chickens by putting miniature barcodes on their beaks and legs, and older hens by their combs.

Working at the UCD Bioresources Research Centre, the researchers achieved a 97 per cent accuracy rate in experiments on identifying individual bird parts with barcodes.

The team which last year discovered they could identify individual sheep by their eyes and cattle by muzzle patterns, also believe they can identify laying hens by their comb profile.

Led by Prof Shane Ward, the group set out to find novel, accurate, tamper-proof and cost-effective systems to track and trace animals using among other things, biometric identification.

Biometric identification uses a physical characteristic that is unique to an individual such as a fingerprint, retinal or iris scanning and voice identification.

While laying hens do not have fingerprints, they discovered they have individual comb profiles.

The researchers developed specific biometric algorithms to isolate the comb profiles using mathematical modelling techniques.

According to a research update from Relay, which circulates research for the food industry, this method delivered an 84 per cent accuracy rate.

The group opted for barcodes for chickens and experimented with two types of barcodes, a miniature linear barcode such as we see on products we buy in shops and a two-dimensional data matrix barcode.

“They succeeded in printing the barcodes on to both beaks and legs of the chickens.

“The barcodes were read a number of times using a barcode scanner to assess its accuracy, speed and readability,” the report says. They also finetuned the best position for the barcodes and the optimal reading conditions for the scanner and the results obtained were promising with accuracy as high as 97 per cent.

“Although these experiments were carried out in the laboratory, real chicken body parts, sourced at poultry processing plants were used,” the research report continued.

“No animals were purposely culled for this research programme as per UCD ethical committee directives,” it says.

“In real life situations, ways will have to be found to imprint the barcodes on to live poultry whilst ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the bird,” it said.

The team has asked companies interested in the commercial opportunities to contact Prof Ward for more details.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ALTERNET: Real ID "Unifxable"

AlterNet an important source for online news source brought this to the table.

CLEAR biometrics travel vendor closes doors

Clear Promises to Delete Sensitive Flier Data, but No Refunds
Ryan Singel c/o Wired Magazine

The airport security fast-track company Clear, which closed abruptly Monday night, belatedly assured customers Tuesday that their data was safe, while the company’s main competitor dithered in the face of an opportunity to corner the market on getting people through airport security lines faster. Refunds of the $200 annual fee, the company also noted, were unlikely.

Clear, the most popular Registered Traveler company, shut down its airport lanes Monday night with just a few hours notice, stranding some 250,000 subscribers to its jump-to-the-front-of-the-airport security-line program and leaving them wondering Tuesday about refunds and the fate of the sensitive data they’d given the company.

Clear members’ concerns were real. Each of those travelers enrolled in Clear biometric identification program that let them enter the company’s dedicated security lanes in 20 of the nation’s busiest airports. That means that the company’s databases have digital images of their fingerprints, irises and faces — along with date of birth, Social Security number, place of birth, gender, address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, employer, driver’s license number and height. Oh, and credit card numbers, too.

The company’s website Monday simply said it had run out of money.

On Tuesday, no one knew what would happen with the sensitive data.

Clear’s customer service line diverted to a message saying Clear is closed. The company’s founder and former CEO Steven Brill claimed he doesn’t know what happened to the company. The Transportation Security Administration, which licensed Clear, didn’t know. GE, which invested more than $16 million in the company, didn’t know either.

And the company’s acting CEO Jim Moroney knew, but did not return a message left on his cell phone.

Finally, late in the afternoon Tuesday, someone at the company updated the website to say that Clear would delete the data.

Applicant and Member data is currently secured in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s Security, Privacy and Compliance Standards. Verified Identity Pass, Inc. will continue to secure such information and will take appropriate steps to delete the information.

Clear’s privacy policy (.pdf) seems to bar the company from selling the data, but does not say what happens if the company is liquidated or bought by another company. Nothing in the privacy policy explicitly prohibits a data-collection company from purchasing Clear just for its data on what is likely a largely well-heeled clientele.

Marc Rotenberg, who heads the Electronic Privacy Information Center, took the opportunity to pun off Deep Throat’s Watergate mantra to follow the money.

“Follow the data! It’s typically the primary asset,” Rotenberg said. “And what makes this collapse particularly interesting is that the data is so detailed and was collected to promote national security. Now it could be heading for eBay.”

Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology wondered also about the fate of users’ data but seemed happy to have Clear cleared out of the nation’s airports.”

“All it really was was a lane for rich people to get on the plane faster,” Schwartz said. “It had nothing to do with security.”

Steven Brill, the company’s founder, said he had no idea what happened, because he got forced out in February.

“I can only speculate about the causes of the company’s demise,” Brill said, though clearly he knows much more than the rest of the world. “What I do know for sure, however, is that the need for intelligent risk management hasn’t diminished and that programs like Clear should have a role in our future.”

What about the Registered Traveler program generally?

Clear was the most popular and well-known of the vendors in TSA’s open Registered Traveler program, which required that all vendors’ systems had to interoperate — at least for a few years.

Now that Clear is gone, what does the No. 2 company FLO have to say? Is it ready to snap up new customers and take over Clear’s lanes?

It hardly sounds that way from the statement put out by FLO senior vice president Fred Fischer:

Flo is currently working with other participants in the industry as well as the Transportation Security Administration to analyze the implications of this announcement and to formulate a plan for the advancement of the program. We have no additional comment at this time but would expect to release further information pending additional discussions with the TSA.

What does the TSA make of Clear clearing out of the nation’s airports?

“TSA has no comment on Verified Identity Pass’s announcement,” spokesman Greg Soule said by e-mail. “The Clear program was a market-driven, private sector venture offered in partnership with airports and airlines in certain locations.”

TSA, not surprisingly, never liked the program, which it viewed as competition, and never allowed the program to actually let so-called Registered Travelers actually skip any of the security checks that other passengers faced. That meant the security background check was simply for show, and TSA eventually abandoned the requirement.

Then-head of TSA Kip Hawley accurately described the RT program in 2008 as nothing more than “a front-of-the-line program with a good biometric ID.”

Ayal Vogel, a vice president at the biometric company Identica disputed even that assertion, arguing that Clear’s reliance on iris and fingerprints raised privacy issues that creeped out potential customers. Instead, the company should have been using technology like his company’s. It uses blood vessels under the skin to verify a person. That captured biometric avoids privacy questions, since it can’t be used for other purposes the way fingerprints can.

Signs of trouble came in March, when founder Steven Brill stepped down due to pressure from investors who led a financing round last fall. Those investors are still unknown and are likely to be the ones with the strongest claims to Clear’s assets, including any undeleted user data.

At the same time, lines at TSA had gotten better in many cities — with a few standout exceptions — cutting into the necessity for the cards. Add to that the dramatic decline in travel and the cutback in spending by individuals and corporations, and you have a recipe for large cash-flow problems.

While 250,000 paying customers sounds good, it’s not really not enough, not when you are trying to staff 20 airports, some with multiple checkpoints, from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

For its part, Clear had long pushed for its card to do more, because its members had been vetted by the Transportation Security Administration to make sure they weren’t terrorists.

They wanted travelers to be able to be able to avoid getting picked for extra screening by computer algorithms and to keep their shoes and coats on. TSA was never convinced, and security experts derided the idea since it would not be hard for a terrorist organization to find ‘clean’ hijacking candidates who could get the cards.

Efforts to Restore Rule of Law in Borderlands

WASHINGTON - June 23 - Today, 27 members of Congress urged Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to comply with all laws if she proceeds with the final approximately 40 miles of border wall construction still slated for environmentally sensitive areas in California and Texas.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Homeland secretary to kill NAO satellites

Created under Bush, program criticized for transgressing civil liberties


WASHINGTON - A government official says Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to kill a controversial program begun by the former Bush administration to use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law enforcement missions.

The program was announced in 2007 and was to have been run by Homeland Security. It has been delayed because of privacy and civil liberty problems.

The official said crucial lawmakers who have objected to the program, known as the National Applications Office, will be notified about the decision Tuesday.

Domestic agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Interior Department have had access to the satellite imagery for years and will continue to, but not through the Homeland Security Department.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kokesh on the Rise gets the Real ID Ask

A Letter from The Editor

In the near future you may be hearing from more Congressional and national candidates stumping it about privacy.

There is something to T.M. I. - Too much information. Unwanted attention. That unnerving idea that you are being monitored and you don't even have the benefits of being a public official. While it's flattering that someone cares that you might say the word "bomb" more than once in daily conversation, you might have only been using late 90's vernacular to describe Mos Def's new album dropping. While everyone else in your neighborhood is trying to be better than you, the girl at the snack bar shows you how much of a nobody you are, and the guy ahead of you doesn't care enough to flush - you still get echoes and crackling on your cell due to government intrusion.

This is the nature of government waste.

BeatTheChip is a living chronicle of news based on the U.S. government's obsession with making American dregs their personal reality television programming. Over the summer we plan on bringing you more coverage of national agencies who are perversely fixated on the American public's private beings and doings. It's shameless and wierd - you can start with an Ixquick search on Artificial Telepathy and Remote Viewing. The government could be defending the defenseless and instead they are blowing whatever's left of the public funding on DARPA and Total Information Awareness. So be on the lookout for BeatTheChip's cost analysis of what is being spent to watch you shop, wash clothes and fart in bed if you choose to do more than write an e-letter to your State Senator: Beat The Chip's Top 10 Domestic Surveillance Agencies in America and what it really costs you.

While the ATF really wishes we would burn something down, we are more apt to just leave a flaming bag of dog dump on the Governor's doorstep. That's who we are and that's why we write; because we don't have the YES Men's budget or legal defense team.

Yours truly,

Sheila Dean

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Biometrics Vendors Home in on Texas TWIC

c/o MoreRFID 

HOUSTON — The Port of Houston Authority (PHA) successfully implemented the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program by harnessing a handheld card reader technology solution from Datastrip and Codebench Inc. Using Datastrip’s DSV2+TURBO® with Codebench’s PIVCheck Plus software, PHA has enrolled close to 7,000 TWIC cardholders in the Houston area to date.

Passenger says TSA agents harassed him

By Jeanne Meserve and Mike Ahlers

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Steve Bierfeldt says the Transportation Security Administration pulled him aside for extra questioning in March. He was carrying a pocket edition of the U.S. Constitution and an iPhone capable of making audio recordings. And he used them.

On a recording a TSA agent can be heard berating Bierfeldt. One sample: "You want to play smartass, and I'm not going to play your f**king game."

Bierfeldt is director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, an outgrowth of the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He was returning from a regional conference March 29 when TSA screeners at Lambert-St. Louis (Illinois) International Airport saw a metal cash box in his carry-on bag. Inside was more than $4,700 dollars in cash -- proceeds from the sale of political merchandise like T-shirts and books.

There are no restrictions on carrying large sums of cash on flights within the United States, but the TSA allegedly took Bierfeldt to a windowless room and, along with other law enforcement agencies, questioned him for almost half an hour about the money.

The American Civil Liberties Union has taken up Bierfeldt's cause and is suing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, whose department includes the TSA. Their complaint alleges that Bierfeldt was "subjected to harassing interrogation, and unlawfully detained."

Larry Schwartztol of the ACLU said the TSA is suffering from mission creep.

"We think what happened to Mr. Bierfeldt is a reflection that TSA believes passenger screening is an opportunity to engage in freewheeling law enforcement investigations that have no link to flight safety," he said.

Schwartztol believes many other passengers have been subjected to the same kind of treatment, which he claims violates constitutional protections against unlawful searches.

The TSA wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, but said in a statement that the movement of large amounts of cash through a checkpoint may be investigated "if suspicious activity is suspected."

Unbeknownst to the TSA agents, Bierfieldt had activated the record application on his phone and slipped it into his pocket. It captured the entire conversation.

An excerpt:

Officer: Why do you have this money? That's the question, that's the major question.

Bierfeldt: Yes, sir, and I'm asking whether I'm legally required to answer that question.

Officer: Answer that question first, why do you have this money.

Bierfeldt: Am I legally required to answer that question?

Officer: So you refuse to answer that question?

Bierfeldt: No, sir, I am not refusing.

Officer: Well, you're not answering.

Bierfeldt: I'm simply asking my rights under the law.

The officers can be heard saying they will involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and appear to threaten arrest, saying they are going to transport Bierfeldt to the local police station, in handcuffs if necessary.

Bierfeldt told CNN he believes their behavior was inappropriate.

"You're in a locked room with no windows. You've got TSA agent. You've got police officers with loaded guns. They're in your face. A few of them were swearing at me."

But the officers did not follow through on their threats. Near the end of the recording an additional officer enters the situation and realizes the origins of the money.

Officer: So these are campaign contributions for Ron Paul?

Bierfeldt: Yes, sir.

Officer: You're free to go.

According to the TSA, "Passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry"

Bierfeldt contends he never refused to answer a question, he only sought to clarify his constitutional rights.

"I asked them, 'Am I required by law to tell you what you're asking me? Am I required to tell you where I am working? Am I required to tell you how I got the cash? Nothing I've done is suspicious. I'm not breaking any laws. I just want to go to my flight. Please advise me as to my rights.' And they didn't."

The TSA says disciplinary action has been taken against one of its employees for inappropriate tone and language.

Huckabee Outs Self on Real ID & 10th Amendment