National ID Card Rules Unveiled
Sat Mar 3, 2007 23:17

Wired News

National ID Card Rules Unveiled

By Ryan Singel
Mar, 01, 2007

Homeland Security officials released long-delayed guidelines that turn
state-issued identification cards into de facto internal passports Thursday,
estimating the changes will cost states and individuals $23 billion over 10

The move prompted a new round of protest from civil libertarians and security
experts, who called on Congress to repeal the 2005 law known as the Real ID Act
that mandates the changes.

Critics, such as American Civil Liberties Union attorney Tim Sparapani, charge
that the bill increases government access to data on Americans and amplifies the
risk of identity theft, without providing significant security benefits.

"Real ID creates the largest single database about U.S. people that has ever
been created," Sparapani said. "This is the people who brought you long lines at
the DMV marrying the people at DHS who brought us Katrina. It's a marriage we
need to break up."

Homeland Security officials point to the 9/11 hijackers' ability to get driver's
licenses in Virginia using false information as justification for the sweeping

"Raising the security standards on driver's licenses establishes another layer
of protection to prevent terrorists from obtaining and using fake documents to
plan or carry out an attack," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said
in a press release.

The 162 pages of proposed rules require:

* Applicants must present a valid passport, certified birth certificate,
green card or other valid visa documents to get a license and states must check
all other states' databases to ensure the person doesn't have a license from
another state.
* States must use a card stock that glows under ultraviolet light, and check
digits, hologramlike images and secret markers.
* Identity documents must expire before eight years and must include legal
name, date of birth, gender, digital photo, home address and a signature. States
can propose ways to let judges, police officers and victims of domestic violence
keep their addresses off the cards. There are no religious exemptions for veils
or scarves for photos.
* States must keep copies of all documents, such as birth certificates,
Social Security cards and utility bills, for seven to 10 years.

However, many difficult questions, such as how state databases will be linked or
how homeless people can get identity documents, were left unanswered by the
proposed rules. Citizens of states that don't abide by the guidelines will not
be able to enter federal courthouses or use their identity cards to board a
commercial flight.

Sophia Cope, a staff attorney at the centrist Center for Democracy and
Technology, says the rules only mention privacy once.

"The Real ID Act does not include language that lets DHS prescribe privacy
requirements, so there are no privacy regulations related to exchange of
personal information between the states, none about skimming of the data on the
magnetic stripe, and no limits on use of information by the feds," Cope said.

The Real ID Act, slipped into an emergency federal funding bill without
hearings, originally required states to begin issuing the ID documents by May
2008. The proposed rules allow states to ask for an extension until Jan. 1,

Cope wants Congress to step in and rewrite the rules. The ACLU and Jim Harper, a
libertarian policy analyst at the Cato Institute who specializes in identity and
homeland security issues, agree.

"With five-plus years behind us, now is the time to be looking at what works and
what doesn't work," Harper said. "Students of identification know that a
national ID does not help with security."

Maine has already declared it will not follow the rules, and other states are
close to joining that rebellion. In Congress, a bipartisan coalition is forming
around bills that would repeal portions of the Real ID Act, but it is unclear if
today's rules will slow or accelerate these efforts.


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