Saturday, July 18, 2009

UK Commons Debate, Indian identity mandates

BTC Exclusive

National-to-global identity ambitions took the stage last week as India, world leaders in overachievement, have sought to surpass both the U.S. & U.K. to get identity to their population of 1.2 billion people. 

Another "reevaluation hearing", strikingly similar to Wednesday's Real ID hearing in Washington, took place the previous week [7/8].  U.K. national identity resisters, No2id, report from across the pond.

All In An Opposition Day's Debate 
[Adapted from No2id reports]
Statutory instruments passed for United Kingdom identity 

UNITED KINGDOM - A House of Commons [comparable to the U.S. Senate] debate took place July 8th on ID card regulations and legislation.  The House of Lords [comparable to House of Representatives] greenlighted draft legislation for The Identity Cards Act of 2006, passing regulations. They simltaneously kicked the can down the road Monday for regard of public input, leaving it up to a change of the guard. 

They released this statement, "That this House regrets the Government's decision to proceed with the draft Identity Cards Act 2006 [...] Regulations 2009 before the case for continued investment in the identity cards project has been put to the British people at a general election". 
NO2 ID, reported earlier dialogue, July 6th, prior to the decision making.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling MP said, "We might be in a position in which, in order to allow people to travel to the United States, we need to process biometric data and to pursue the introduction of biometric passports. We have not backed away from the biometric passport option [...] However, it is not our intention to proceed with a compulsory national identity register".   
Grayling seemed to suggest that the Tory party would store biometric data in a central passport database but Christopher Huhne MP challenged this.
"I am not sure that I would accept that it is necessary to store biometric data.  After all, the document would have the biometric data and it is anadditional guarantee of veracity. Why is it necessary to go one step  further and store it centrally?"
>>WATCH COMMONS DEBATE HERE::: [Windows Download for Mac/PC]
Cost claims stir ID cards debate

The House of Commons last week debated identity cards for the first time in two-and-a-half years after the Conservatives proposed a motion for the government to abandon the scheme.

As expected, the motion was defeated, but the debate proved instructive in outlining both the government’s and the opposition’s attitude to what has proved a controversial scheme in two key areas –  what will it cost and what the alternatives are.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats have argued that in times of fiscal constraint, the £4.9bn scheme must be abandoned  – although they are ideologically opposed to the plan as well.

But scrapping ID cards will not simply save £4.9bn. According to the latest cost estimates confirmed to Computing by the Home Office this week, £3.6bn of spending on the scheme supports the issue of passports ­ – a measure that none of the political parties opposes. So ending the scheme will save £1.3bn at most.

But the issue is complicated further by home secretary Alan Johnson’s claims that this £1.3bn would be recovered by the charges levied for cards. ::MORE HERE::

Best way to fix Real ID is to repeal it -LA Times

One question that neither the backers of Real ID nor of Pass ID have adequately answered is: If this law were in place before 9/11, would it have prevented the attacks? Given that terrorists would still be able to steal or forge identity documents, or even obtain them legally as many of the 9/11 hijackers did, the answer is almost certainly no. 
Tracking identity is a poor way to fend off terrorists; a better approach would be stronger measures to prevent them from smuggling weapons or explosives onto airplanes. Rather than trying to save Real ID with a less destructive bill, better to let it die of its fatal flaws. - LA Times

Legislation to create a federal ID card is an expensive, intrusive boondoggle that should be killed.

If you're planning on using up those frequent-flier miles, you might want to make the trip before the end of the year. Unless Congress or the Obama administration takes action on a shortsighted national security law approved in response to the 9/11 attacks, the nation's air travel system will get turbulent on Jan. 1, 2010.

With no debate, the Senate in 2005 approved the Real ID Act: H.R. 418: -- which had been inserted into must-pass legislation authorizing funds for the Iraq war. That may have been the only way to get the deeply controversial law through the upper house, because of all the heightened security measures passed following 9/11, none will have as dramatic and intrusive an effect on the lives of everyday Americans as Real ID.

The law mandates a tamper-proof card that would become the only acceptable form of identification for federal purposes, such as boarding a commercial airliner or entering a federal building. It was clumsily drafted in a way that imposes multibillion-dollar expenses on state governments, enhances opportunities for identity theft, turns state motor vehicle departments into arms of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will almost certainly lead to harassment of immigrants, legal or otherwise. Though legislation has recently been introduced in Congress that would repair many of Real ID's faults, it doesn't go far enough. The best way to fix Real ID is to repeal it.

Real ID was a response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which called for federal standards for driver's licenses and birth certificates. That's because 18 of the 19 hijackers had state IDs, some of which were fraudulent and some of which should have expired because the terrorists had overstayed their visas.


Pass ID is an improvement, but it still imposes risks and burdens that outweigh its national security benefits. It mandates storage of identity documents by state officials and immigration checks at the DMV. It complicates efforts by some states to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, because such licenses would require special markings to signal that the bearer is here illegally. We don't oppose sensible measures to enforce our immigration laws, but anything that discourages undocumented immigrants from getting driver's licenses -- as Pass ID would -- endangers all drivers on the road and raises insurance costs for everyone.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ANALYSIS: A 1st Un-Real ID Hearing

Collins, Akaka say PASS Act to "fix" Real ID 
  >>WATCH CSPAN Coverage ::: 

"By Dec. 31, no state will have issued a Real ID compliant identification document. We cannot have national standards for driver's licenses when the states themselves refuse to participate," - DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano
WASHINGTON- The first Anti-Real ID hearing in U.S. history clearly illuminated the states need more time to absorb federal standards for identity. An optimistic vantage point included further consideration of the PASS Act.  Privacy considerations are still far from the goals of a clinical repeal of the federal Real ID Act mentioned in late April.

All parties with a stake in Real ID have 15 days to prepare a statement to enter public record for consideration .  The next markup, or opportunity for PASS Act revisions, takes place July 29th, 2009.

BTC Editorial Report 
by Sheila Dean

It was refreshing to hear Sen. Joe Lieberman say, "We are not surprised to see that we are here today." The Real ID Act passed without a debate, eluding due process. States were then asked to absorb the costs of inadequate technologies which would not protect them.  Consequently States resisted the costs and dangers of incorporating the legislation.  DHS is appropriately back to the drawing board.

Senator Collins' opening statments outed that the PASS Act does not repeal the Real ID Act but refines it. The 9-11 Commission recommendations continue to propell the PASS Act in lieu of the Real ID Act.  

The DHS hearing committee only recognized 13 states who have legally opposed the federal legislation.  Over 25 states found enough fault with the Real ID program to beat it back. The PASS Act unfortunately smacks of corporate shame, to the point of media labeling the legislation as a rebranding effort of Real ID.   As the corporate precedent persists,  the PASS Act is a way to legally override States laws into contending in a second round of stomaching expensive tech mandates.  States could not afford the build of the central databases. They might be able to afford the RFID and biometrics as part and parcel behind the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, propelled by the 9-11 Commission report.   

If the PASS Act prevails, States will be deadlined again to comply with federal mandates. 

Senator Joe Lieberman relished "rubbing it in"; as the Real ID Act's passage and subsequent failure also repealed his 9-11 Commissions identity work in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Lieberman observes, like many in Washington, to corporeal ignorance and detriment, the 9-11 Commission report's ability to grant legislators super powers. The report's role in 2009 has been reduced to a Reichstag fire poker for disaster capitalist beggars, filled with mysterious humanity driven omissions. The U.S. government expects Americans to swallow whole any agenda kicked down over the 9-11 Commission report, based in fact or fiction.  One such agenda is the acceptance of a national identity based on 9-11 hijackers lawfully present in the U.S. on temporary Visas.  

In today's Hollywood, Americans can't afford to sponsor Lieberman's tickets to Fantasy Island.  States will continue to fight The Corporation over the appropriations they are expected to spend to surveill identity. They simply need it for other things.

Senator Akaka made an amazing point of asking Stewart Baker, consultant for former DHS Secretary Chertoff's national security firm, about the top priority of order for expensing machine readable zone technologies [bar code, RFID, biometrics] over the stack of disaster preparedness needs. Even if no one asked us, we think the Senate should take the RFID & biometrics budget and reroute it to ready the Gulf Coast for the next hurricane season, instead of dragging out man-made disasters like the Real ID Act.

BTW...Chertoff has been known to have personal investment stock in the biometrics game.  He has much to lose if the PASS Act cuts both the RFID and biometrics tech bids.   

DHS Secretary Napolitano became an unlikely champion of pragmatism. It was so great to hear that Real ID was "D.O.A.", going nowhere as long as at least 13 states had passed laws against it. She was the first to reveal a very strong reccomendation that States needed more time and would be willing to find their own paths to securing their licenses from pilot programs included in the PASS Act.   Unfortunately, she too stays employed by sticking to the 9-11 Commisssion report as the rule book.

Senator Voinovich eagerly defended the PASS Act as the solution to ease the stand off between State governments and the federal design for identity.  Before excusing himself to attend to an amendment, he projected that the PASS Act creates an opportunity for federal legislators to "get it right the second time".  Not everyone in Washington D.C. insults public intelligence.  Happy Birthday,  Senator Voinovich.

Akaka, Lieberman & Voinovich stated,"Let the perfect, not be the enemy of the good."  

The literal translation is the Real/PASS ID Act has a long tough road ahead of it.  

What didn't make it into the hearing was a discussion of a repeal effort, dispatching rule making capability to suspend further implementations and costs of standards by States, and head-on dealings with the role Real ID has played in States' immigration games.  States like California, have put their Real ID bills on on the back burner until federal regulations over identity are settled.  California Senator Ed Cedillo has been pushing legal identity for undocumented workers for over 10 years.  For Cedillo's supporters the Real ID Act seems to be a tangible federal mandate able to escalate American identity for millions of immigrant workers in Southern California. Conversely, Texas who shares the largest border with mainland Mexico, projects demands for tighter immgration control onto the Real ID Act in hopes of weeding out unlawful identity.   As Real ID exists, neither state will see deliverance.

Case in point, Eliot Spitzer propelled his downward spiral by conceding to Enhanced Drivers License standards for New York State, granting issuance to undocumented alien drivers.  A very public backlash soon overwhelmed him. The historical debate now competes over what put Spitzer out of office faster: undocumented immigrant ID concessions, outing Federal banking bubble shennanigans, or his overinvestment in the NYSE [New York Sex Exchange].  While Washington state passed more privacy laws to cover their haste to incorporate RFID in licenses.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's [R-TX] office alluded to a separate hearing and discussion about Real ID, apart from yesterday's hearing addressing immigration regulation. This might include border fence legislation ; the crossroads of citizenship, U.S. identity and current U.S. labor demands.  

The PASS Act's notion of States creating pilot programs to explore better performing identity security pursues a manageable direction for state governments.  Napolitano mentioned the Mississippi program available to 13 states to test certain technologies.   The prospective darkside for States is the predatory corporate prescription of surveillance products endorsed by the federal government; whether they actually perform or not. Smart states who rejected Real ID outright, like Idaho & Montana, may shop for better technologies on their own.  DHS consultant, Stewart Baker, stuck to regulated mandates that States pay their own way for secured licenses.   Napolitano pointed out States made recommendations for secured licenses on their own of what will work for them.

What didn't surprise was the fact that National Sherrif's Association leader, Leroy Baca, of  LA County Sherrif's Department supports whatever work is put in front of them to do. The PASS Act was no exception. The police will surveill whatever the government wants, as long as it's the law and they're ordered to protect it.  

What did surprise was the fact that there really wasn't a national standard to provide citizenship to attain a license prior to Real ID. Amid the echoing redundancy in Real ID regulations, it was miraculous that this fact managed to surface.   At least 10 states, mostly on the Canadian border, had not required proof of lawful residence in the U.S. in order to attain a license. Many police officers and citizens alike have taken for granted that in order to attain a State issued identification, a cardholder has jumped through necessary hoops to prove identity. If not, then  you don't complete the American rite of passage.  Again, Ari Schwartz exposed that internal fraud on the part of license administrators is one of the chief causes of identity theft. 

I think the word "immigration" was not mentioned once, with the exception Senator Akaka's questions to CDT's Ari Schwartz over the E-verify program.  The contrasts seemed an acceptable rabbit trail to explore during the hearing, according to on-site reps for CATO Institute and the ACLU.   

Things took a sharp turn with Senator Roland Burris' starkly strange and awkward questions about propelling National ID cards and the needs of TSA directed chummily at Secretary Napolitano.  Many were as unsure of Burris' questions as they were answers given by Napolitano.

A sure fire dissapointment was Vermont Governor, Jim Douglas, toadie convenience proponent,  who pulled his Enhanced Drivers License out of the pie, as the fabled little Jack Horner of Real ID compliance.   He gets no pat on the head from privacy advocates who are aware of arbitrary RFID scamming and ongoing data collection efforts in other EDL states, like Washington. 

CDT's, Ari Schwartz recovered and revealed much of the lost ark of privacy, carrying the silent concerns of privacy and civil liberties advocates in the hearing audience.  The "machine readable zones" on licenses were still played down, as no one was courageous enough to mention or even inquire about RFID tags, biometric or any other manifestly WHTI compliant technologies.   We believe that is the trade off absorbed in the PASS Act.

The PASS Act does not survive most privacy analysts tests against this compromise. It is not far enough away from Real ID.  In fact, it passes for Real ID and that is the problem. 

We can only assure publicans of one thing: everything will be okay if they repeal Real ID.