Saturday, August 1, 2009

ACLU pronounces Real ID "dead"; introduces repeal legislation

WASHINGTON - July 31 -
In a welcome move, legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives to repeal the discredited Real ID Act of 2005. The REAL ID Repeal and Identification Security Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), would repeal Real ID and replace it with the original negotiated rulemaking process passed by Congress as part of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Twenty-five states have already rejected Real ID, citing its high cost, invasiveness and the bureaucratic hassles it creates for citizens.

”Real ID is essentially dead. It’s time for it to be formally repealed and replaced with a process that works, one that protects civil liberties and license security,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Rep. Cohen took a big step forward by moving to eliminate this failed law and providing much-needed safeguards for our civil liberties.”

The Real ID Act of 2005 directs states to issue a federally-approved driver’s license or other form of ID that would be necessary for airline travel and become part of a national database. Like state governments from coast to coast, the American Civil Liberties Union has long opposed the Act as too invasive, too much red tape and too expensive.

Fifteen states have passed binding legislation prohibiting participation in the Real ID program: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and Missouri. Ten other states have enacted resolutions in opposition to Real ID: Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee.

Similar to the Akaka-Sununu Senate bill of 2007 and the Allen House bill of 2007, Rep. Cohen’s bill would eliminate most of the requirements that laid the foundation for a National ID card, such as the obligation that all data and systems be standardized. The proposal also requires a collaborative approach, called negotiated rulemaking, which would advise the Department of Homeland Security on how to maximize driver’s license security while minimizing the administrative burden on the states. This approach was initially adopted by the law which implemented the 9/11 Commission recommendations and subsequently repealed by Real ID. Significant privacy protections in the proposal include prohibiting the use of license data by third parties, encryption of the data and adherence to state privacy laws that may provide greater protection. Additionally, Rep. Cohen’s bill would also provide for the establishment of a negotiated rulemaking committee, which would present its recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security.

”States and ordinary Americans have all rejected a National ID card,” said Christopher Calabrese, Counsel for the ACLU Technology and Liberty Project. “Now it’s time for Congress to follow their lead and finally get rid of the Real ID Act by passing Rep. Cohen’s bill.”

To learn more about the Real ID Act or read about its history, visit

Friday, July 31, 2009

No2Id DIGEST: Where do they go?
The film called "Where do they go?" is narrated by Simon Callow and features a paper man who leaves parts of himself in a variety of locations.
Liberty's accompanying blurb says: "Over the last few years the Government has mislaid a staggering amount of our personal information. In this clever short film, Liberty asks whether they can be trusted with even more data".

NO2ID UK Reports

79% of Brits think a National ID is a Waste of Money 

A YouGov / Sunday People poll of 1765 adults in the UK has found 
79% of respondents think ID cards are a waste of money. Support for 
the government's ID scheme has steadily decreased as people find out
more about it - something that has become increasingly difficult as
government spin continues to create confusion amongst the wider public.

Launching the ID scheme is an almost weekly event.
(30th July)

Home Secretary Alan Johnson trooped the proverbial Home Office colour and launched the scheme yet again, this time by showing the world what a piece of plastic looks like. The card was revealed by the Home Secretary at St Pancras International Station in London and it was announced(again) that the card can also be used as a travel document in Europe.

He also announced (again) citizens in the North West will be able to apply for a card in the New Year. Of course what he didn't announce (again) was that as well as having a plastic card you will have to supply 49 pieces of information that will be stored in centralised databases for life and that you will be locked into a system of fines if they deem this information to be incorrect. The Home Office has released pictures of the new ID card design so that forgers have plenty
of time to make convincing copies.

Prisoners & Children tracked in ISA's Vulnerable Groups

In October the government will launch its new Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) designed, according to them, "to ensure that anyone who presents a known risk to vulnerable groups is quite simply prevented from working with them". The scheme will be backed with  
another government database. The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will administer the scheme. From July 2010 anyone working with vulnerable groups (such as children and prisoners) will be encouraged to register.  According to the ISA website: "When a person becomes ISA-registered they will be continuously monitored and their status reassessed against any new information which may come to light".   

The ISA scheme is in addition to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, but unlike CRB checks it will become a legal requirement for everyone who is working with specified vulnerable groups to be registered with (and tracked by) the ISA. 

The scheme has been introduced under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups 
Act 2006, which came about after the Bichard Inquiry, recomending" a new scheme under which everyone working with children or vulnerable adults should be checked and registered". 

The Roadshowpresentation that explains the new scheme states, "Information sharing framework is enshrined in law and is at the heart of the scheme."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

S.1261 Markup News Digest

To help states meet the requirement, the bill authorizes the new, three-year $150 million grant program. Senators agreed on an amendment from Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., requiring the department to produce an annual report on the privacy implications of PASS ID. 
Panel votes to send PASS ID bill to Senate


A Senate panel approved legislation today that would establish federal security standards for driver's licenses and identification cards, including a $150 million grant program to help states digitize birth records.

The bill creating the PASS ID program, approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by voice vote, will require states to issue driver's licenses that are compliant with federal standards by 2016. States will have to show they are moving toward compliance by 2011.

The bill is intended to replace the 2005 REAL ID law, which federal and state officials roundly criticized as unworkable. It is expected to be brought to the Senate floor soon, as it needs to be enacted by December in order to repeal looming deadlines under REAL ID.

Details of the bill were negotiated in recent days by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman and ranking member Susan Collins, along with Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.

Senate panel races with nominations, laws, to adjournment
Federal News Radio Reports 1500 AM

The panel then turned to S 1261, more commonly known as the PASS ID Act. This bill is designed to replace the REAL ID act adopted by the previous Congress under the Bush Administration.

The REAL ID act had mandated that states improve their qualifications for drivers licenses to heighten security. But states balked saying the measure amounted to an unfunded mandate from the federal government, and called for an unwieldy program of enforcement. Working with state governors, DHS Secretary Napolitano, who was one of those governors objecting to REAL ID, worked to draft the REAL ID bill which removed many of the states' objections. "Real ID had a very real problem, it led to widespread rebellion by the state," said Collins. "This act would greatly improve law while keeping standards for secure driver's licenses."

"The 9/11 Commission was very clear: for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons," said Lieberman, adding that 11 of the 19 9/11 terrorists had legally obtained driver's licenses.

The REAL ID act would mandate that states verify documents such as birth certificates which are used to attain licenses. The legislation would require states to check with existing national databases to confirm the documents and to verify the immigration status.

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) voiced concerns about the implications for travelers and the role of the TSA. Collins introduced an amendment legally establishing the authority of TSA officials as the final arbiter of who can, and can't, board an airliner on the basis of presented identification.

With the amendments, the PASS ID bill was approved by a unanimous vote of the committee.

Committee approves bill to strip some IT requirements from Real ID

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who introduced the bill, said in a statement that the amended version of PASS ID wouldn’t require states to open to other states their motor vehicle departments' databases that contain identity documents and personal information. However, Akaka’s office said the added amendments would:

  • Deal with industry concerns about privacy limitations on uses of data Machine Readable Zones on driver’s licenses and identification cards.

  • Provide resources for states to eventually verify the birth certificates of applicants electronically.

  • Make clear that the Homeland Security Department retains its authority to bar people from boarding a federal aircraft.
  • Require an annual asessment of the PASS ID Act by DHS’ Privacy Office and the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Office.

National ID Policy Briefing

Assessing the Options: REAL ID, PASS ID, or No National ID at All

Friday, July 24, 2009
12:30 PM

Featuring Christopher Calabrese, Counsel, Technology & Liberty Program, American Civil Liberties Union; David E. Williams, Vice President, Policy, Citizens Against Government Waste; and Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

The introduction of a bill called the PASS ID Act in the Senate has renewed the debate about whether the United States should have a national ID. PASS ID purports to improve on the moribund REAL ID Act, but the central question is whether there should be a national ID at all. A national ID would cost billions of dollars, place sensitive identity documents into insecure databases, and give the federal government more control over Americans' private lives. Join us for a discussion of the weaknesses that PASS ID and REAL ID share with any national ID system, and why diverse, competitive identity and credentialing systems are superior.

PASS ID passes DHS Senate Committee

BTC - We are not surprised.   We are even less surprised that Secure ID News scooped it first.
They are the ones advertising for a September biometrics conference in Tampa, FL; the world's death metal capital & international record holder for most lightning strikes.  May God taze the s**t out of them for even trying.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the PASS ID bill, which would repeal parts of the REAL ID Act.

“The bill the Committee approved is a good compromise that addresses many of the concerns we all have about the current REAL ID Act,” said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), the sponsor of the bill. “The PASS ID Act would implement identification security improvements, while fixing the worst parts of REAL ID and adding several important new privacy protections.”

There’s some question as to whether the proposed legislation would help states better secure IDs while also protecting citizen privacy. Others say it “guts” an existing law and takes states back to pre-9/11 identity vetting for IDs.

No other action has been scheduled on the bill as of press time. See SecureIDNews’ previous coverage of PASS ID

CDT's proposed limitations on identity squeeze Civil Libertarians

BTC- CDT present's their "4 options" for Identity reform. They find value in hanging onto the Real ID Act and fear a repeal. We say that 25 States are more afraid of getting Real ID than spending the time and resources to create 3 different bills for immigration reform, national drivers license standards, and transportation and international travel policy.  

HINT:  An internal passport is not necessary to carry on domestic daily affairs, no matter how much security is being screamed at us over the airport loud speakers.

Since only 4 options were projected for the PASS Act markup, ACLU reports that we have lost ground. The fact remains there is a massive difference in what Washington wants and what the American individual demands for personal identity standards.  We get to take it personally.

by Leslie Harris, CEO of Center for Democracy, for The Huffington Post

The current debate over a "national" ID standard has touched off a fierce debate in the civil liberties community. While such a dustup can be normal, even healthy, the outcome of this one could have serious implications for Americans' privacy.

At the heart of the controversy is the recently introduced "PASS ID Act," which would amend some of the more troubling provisions of the 2005 REAL ID Act. We view PASS ID as an important, if flawed, piece of legislation that will restore some of the key privacy protections eviscerated under REAL ID.

What is harder to fathom is the opposition of our fellow civil liberties advocates, who oppose PASS ID because it falls short of an outright repeal of REAL ID.

However, a repeal does not directly translate into privacy protections. Here's the back of the envelope handicapping on what happens if REAL ID is ever repealed.  ::: MORE HERE:::

Dozens of lawmakers write to Napolitano with concerns about impact of border barriers

Written by Steve Taylor and Joey Gomez , Rio Grande Guardian

McALLEN, July 24 - Forty three members of Congress have sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano voicing concern over the “mounting” environmental and societal impact of the border wall and other security barriers.

The lawmakers have asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to cooperate with other applicable agencies to create and fund a “robust border-wide environmental monitoring program” and to provide “sufficient mitigation funding” for damage caused by border security infrastructure and enforcement activities along the Southwest border region.

“It is the Secretary’s responsibility to protect the homeland, not selectively destroy our environment,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., one of the 43 members of Congress to sign the letter.

Grijalva, who convened a congressional hearing about the border wall at the University of Texas at Brownsville last year, said a review is necessary to “quantify, compensate for and avoid the negative consequences of border security infrastructure and operations.” He said border communities are “open to working on behalf of security - not a selective security, but rather one that includes habitat, national, border, and regional security.”

Grijalva described the hundreds of miles of border fencing constructed by DHS as a “massive federal project.” He said the project has had “serious consequences upon natural and cultural public resources, and has caused hardship for private land owners, whose lands have been condemned and livelihoods have been disrupted.”

Scott Nicol, a co-founder of the No Border Wall group, pointed out that U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimates that 60 percent of their National Wildlife Refuge tracts in south Texas will be impacted by the border wall. The South Texas tracts were established, in part, for the protection of endangered species such as the ocelot and jaguarondi.

“We are pleased to hear that 43 members of Congress are stepping up to the plate and attempting to correct some of the environmental damage that the border wall has done. If former Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff had not been given the power to waive all laws, this would have been addressed before wall construction began. Chertoff used the Real ID Act to waive the National Environmental Policy Act, along with 35 other federal laws, stopping the usual Environmental Impact Statement process in its tracks,” Nicol told the Guardian.

“Before the first bulldozer dug into the earth to clear a path for the wall, many of its impacts had been predicted. The Environmental Protection Agency warned that blasting in California's Otay Mountain Wilderness Area would dump thousands of tons of rock and sediment into the Tijuana River. Defenders of Wildlife issued a report on the Arizona wall's impacts on the ability of endangered Sonoran pronghorn to migrate. U.S. Fish and Wildlife told DHS that Hidalgo County's levee-border wall would be incompatible with the mission of the wildlife refuges that it would slice through.”

The letter from the members of Congress has this to say about the environmental impact of the border wall in south Texas:

“In south Texas, private land owners and agricultural interests have significant tracts of land that have been or will be isolated to the south of border fencing. Yet, DHS has only offered compensation for the exact footprint of the infrastructure – failure to recognize or compensate for fiscal losses of property value and accessibility caused by the construction of border fencing.”

Nicol said the monitoring and mitigation program that the members of Congress are calling for would be a “good first step towards bringing scientific rigor to an understanding of the wall's impacts.” However, he said the No Border Wall group is concerned that DHS will ignore its findings, “just as they ignored the Environmental Protection Agency, Defenders of Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.” :::MORE HERE:::

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FLOGGER: CATO's Jim Harper Rakes CDT over the coals

Note from the Editor

We like Jim Harper.  He publishes piles of vile on National ID policy almost as much as we do. We've offered CATO an official spot on BTC as a columnist. Mainly because their rhetoric rolls up on our wire anyway.  As a social experiment, we're publishing this as the first official CATO column by Jim Harper.  We gave it a working title: FLOGGER: National ID bashing by CATO Policy brand, Jim Harper. If they pitch garbage at us, we'll take it off. {FYI for CATO: Your s**t gets published here anyway!}
FLOGGER : National ID bashing by CATO policy brand, Jim Harper
Harper begs the question of CDT,
"Do we already have a National ID?"

CDT {Center for Democracy & Technology} is a sophisticated Washington, D.C. operation. It is supposed to understand these dynamics. I can’t give it the pass that outsiders to Washington might get. By committing to compromise rather than any principle, and by lending its name to the Markle Foundation Task Force report, CDT gave credibility to a bad idea — the creation of a national ID.
::READ More of Jim's flogging of CDT here:: 

DHS Senate Committee miscalculates number of States opposed to Real ID

5-11 Official Release

12 States overlooked with opposition to the Real ID Act

WASHINGTON -Advocacy researchers concluded late last week that only 13 out of 25 States were recognized for rejecting federal Real ID Act.  The flaw was first noticed during a hearing where legislation was reconsidered for  replacement by the PASS Act, July 15th.

Misinformation is currently billed as the primary cause of confusion. Local and national media reported large variances in the number of states opposed to the national identity program, ranging from 11 to 43.  Researchers from the ACLU, Electronic Privacy Information Center and the 5-11 Campaign sponsored a cohesive total of States after finding consistent errors in national reporting following the hearing.

There was no response from Homeland Security when asked about the reason for the discrepancy.

PASS Act to Continue Majority of Real ID policy

The PASS Act would carry forward the majority of the Real ID language, to the dismay of State level opponents to the Real ID Act.   States rejected the federal law due to the program’s lack of consideration for privacy, identity security and expensive compliance costs.  Edits to current federal law are viewed by PASS Act’s proponents as a way to incorporate privacy considerations and a way for States afford to implement the program.  

In a highly indirect alliance, supporters and opponents of the Real ID Act have come out against the newer legislation.  Those in favor of the Real ID Act say the PASS Act isn’t secure enough to stop terrorists.  Those opposed to the Real ID Act say the PASS Act goes against States wishes to reject an unfunded mandate and a way to outmaneuver State laws against a national identity boondoggle.

The Real ID Act originally was passed as a rider to a 2005 supplemental defense and tsunami relief appropriations bill.   Information about States who passed local laws against Real ID are listed below.



TOTAL : 15 


TOTAL : 10 




NPR: Congress May Revamp Secure I.D. Program

Monday, July 27, 2009

ANSWERS: 9-11 Commission Deadlines National Identity

BTC -  Amid other nagging questions, has been:  who sets Real ID compliance deadlines and what is their agenda, hidden or not?  What drives these guys to say we must have EDL technologies in every American ID card at the border by December 31,2009.  Who cracks the whip?

Unfortunately, we have an answer. 

Among them, it is yet again, pride of authorship in the 9-11 Commission Report.   Apparently our "kicking the can down the road" editorial got underneath someone's skin. They now feel sufficiently challenged to insist in the first bullet point : In 2009 drivers licenses are STILL as lethal as terrorist weaponry. 

Nah.  They want you to buy the machine readable zone technologies. They need to retire.  It gooses the stock for the shareholders. 

Real ID as Immigration Reform

An educated guess, is that Senators like Akaka (HI) doesn't trust the pork brands they are dishing up on the backs of the American people. State governments are not that dumb.  They know what works and what doesn't in a strapped economy.

We are a bit too smart to accept the jump they want us to make between national identity and terrorism.  It's only a little smaller than the jump from the 9-11 attacks to the invasion of Iraq, and only slightly less conspicuous.  DHS needs a new 9-11 evaluation crew.  Longtime friend, Shane Geiger, 9-11 Truth and Architects, sent us the following report. 

9/11 Commission members act to finally wrap it up

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Key members of the original 9/11 Commission are banding together to rekindle the sense of urgency felt after the 2001 attacks and pressure the government to act on the commission's unfinished business.

The new group, headed by 9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, said Congress has adopted about 80 percent of the recommendations, made five years ago in the commission's landmark report, but has left troublesome security gaps.

"I'm worried that 20 percent [of the recommendations] haven't been addressed," Kean said. "I'm also worried that among the 80 percent, things aren't fully done."

Among what they described as unfinished business failings were:

• Failure to enforce national standards for state driver's licenses and other IDs, which the 9/11 Commission said are as important to terrorists as weapons.

• Lack of a system to determine if visitors to the United States leave the country.

• Lack of the ability of police, firefighters and others to communicate.

• No reform of a system that places oversight of the Department of Homeland Security in the hands of more than 80 congressional committees and subcommittes, sapping the department's time and energies.

"Some of our recommendations were just flatly turned down," Hamilton said, citing one designed to revamp congressional oversight. He called the current system "an absurdity." VideoWatch new 9/11 group members talk about security gaps »

Congress mandated the original 9/11 Commission, but the new bipartisan National Security Preparedness Group has no official status and is relying on the prestige of its members to give it clout.

Members include former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former U.S. Attorneys General Edwin Meese III and Richard Thornburgh, and former Energy Secretary E. Spencer Abraham.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano introduced the NSPG at an event at Homeland Security headquarters.

"I look forward to a very vigorous relationship with this group to provide advice, to provide thought and to help us as we continue to move forward," Napolitano said.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit organization formed in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, brought the group together to address policy challenges.

The NSPG said it also will focus on the evolving threat of terrorism. Kean said that the threat of cyber attacks has increased since the 9/11 Commission issued its report.