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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Homeland Security plays real reasonable on Real ID

The Department of Homeland Security fronted up as a reasonable gent yesterday when it granted state civil servants extra time to implement the Real ID Act.  In what amounted to a standard “we’re listening” tip of the hat to civil liberties campaigners, the DHS issued guidelines for implementing the Real ID Act, which play down many of the most contentious aspects of program to nationally standardise identity documents.  The long-awaited rules (PDF), issued on Thursday in Washington DC, will ease the timetable for state governments to adopt the Act, and delay an initial insistence on RFID technology and biometrics.  The DHS recommendation will allow extensions until the end of 2009.

At a press conference to set out the rules, DHS chief Michael Chertoff, played the Honest Joe card: “It’s very simple and it’s really a matter of common sense.

Applicants for driver’s licenses will need to bring documents to their state Department of Motor Vehicles offices to validate or prove five things: who they are, what their date of birth is, what their legal status is in the United States, their social security number and their address.

There are no solid plans to encrypt the barcode, meaning for example that bars might have access to patrons’ home addresses.

Inviting comment in its recommendations, the DHS said it “leans toward” scrambling the data, but said that cost might outweigh any privacy benefits.  The history of such systems, such as the National DNA Database in the UK, suggest they are susceptible to mission creep; civil libertarians point out that once established, the only way for a database to go is bigger.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/03/real_id_recommendations/

Posted on 03/03
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