By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-08-02 Print this article Print

The ACLU said in an Aug. 1 statement that the IDs would hold machine-readable data—either on a bar code or in an RFID chip—for every American. The information would be stored in a national database available to government employees at all levels, putting every American at risk of identity theft and security breaches, according to the ACLU. "Real ID is dead in the water and it is clear that no amount of money can save it," ACLU Legislative Council Tim Sparapani said in the statement. "The only solution to Real ID is to scrap it and replace it, and Congress has caught on. With 17 states opposed to this program and the U.S. Senate standing behind them, this is the beginning of the end of Real ID. [Three hundred million dollars] does not even come close to covering the costs of the program, and it is not enough to lure Americans to give up their privacy."
Advocates of Real ID, largely represented by the Coalition for a Secure Drivers License, a grassroots organization representing 9/11 victims families, released a statement Aug. 1 expressing its "deep appreciation" for Alexanders efforts.
"While we are disappointed in the outcome of the vote, we are very encouraged by the positive support of 44 senators," said Coalition spokesman Neil Berro. "Its amazing that key players in the political process continue to ignore common sense. The DHS Appropriations bill contains billions of dollars for increased airport security, increased port security and additional border security. At the same time, the inspectors at airports continue to have no idea whether the IDs presented to them by travelers are fake IDs." To read about why there is still resistance to RDIF, despite its successes, click here. The real issue for states could boil down to the cost of implementing and maintaining the systems required to support Real ID. In March, DHS released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Real ID. The NPRM proposed the use of 2-D barcode as a mandated machine-readable technology. Bar code technology has been in use since the 1950s, is accepted globally and is used by 46 state motor vehicle jurisdictions. DHS is leaning toward encrypting the data on the barcode as a privacy protection, which could require additional technology. The real rub with implementing 2-D would be the systems required to validate and maintain ID documentation and enable secure queries from other states. The NPRM does not specify the use of RFID—the actual rules could—as a minimum standard, but it does suggest states may "independently choose to implement an RFID solution, in addition to the standard 2-D bar code." The rational behind implementing additional technology could be to comply with further legislation down the road—a fear of groups like the ACLU—that could require RFID along with biometric capabilities, such as electronic storage of a finger print, iris scan or face scan, in a national ID that is interoperable with electronic passports. The United States is part of a growing coalition of countries using RFID in ID documents, from passports to border crossing cards. Currently, RFID passports are included in new Finnish, U.K., Australian and some U.S. passports issued starting in 2006. Its estimated that the United States issued some 13 million passports last year. Biometrics are included in Asian and European passports. The European Commission is looking into RFID policy, which includes ID documentation. Malaysia began chipping its passports in 1998. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.


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