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Saturday, March 10th 2007

National ID Cards

Show Me Your Papers

The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires state driver license databases to communicate with each other, along with specific requirements for ID cards.

Well, as the deadline for some of these requirements to be implemented approaches some states are scoffing (h/t Reddit).

Legislators in 15 states are pushing bills and resolutions that urge noncompliance with the 2005 Real ID Act. The law, based on recommendations by the 9/11 commission, sets minimum standards for verifying the identity of license applicants, and stipulates what information must be stored on machine-readable cards.

[A]s the 2008 deadline for implementation nears, the Real ID law is raising a host of concerns: cost, hassle for millions of drivers, and fear that government or private industry will misuse the data network. Opponents as divergent as states’ rights politicians, civil libertarians, and immigration advocates are rallying to undo it.

Maine’s legislature fired the opening salvo last month in adopting a resolution of noncompliance – a position that, if carried out, could eventually impair Mainers’ ability to easily board airplanes, open bank accounts, or enter federal buildings. The Montana House went further by actually prohibiting implementation.

Frustration over “a large unfunded mandate” is the first complaint of Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Moore (D), who has filed a noncompliance resolution similar to one in New Mexico.

The REAL ID Act didn’t specify many of the requirements for drivers licenses, but left it up to the Department of Homeland Security, who on March 1st issued those requirements (h/t Wired News) as well as extending the deadline for implementing them from May 2008 to January 2010. That hasn’t assuaged the concerns of some state legislatures.

As disgusting as this proposal for what Wired news refers to as a defacto “internal passport,” it could be worse. We could be living in the UK.

A new UK national database will start collecting bank records, tax records, and even car movements.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

All of the data will be centralized and cross referenced.

Some of the data to be handed over is “voluntary”. But however, as the Slashdot article points out there’s new word that if you opt out of some elements of the database you won’t be able to get a passport!

Anybody who objects to their personal details going on the new “Big Brother” ID cards database will be banned from having a passport.

The first ID cards will be issued in 2009, to anybody who applies for a passport.

People will be required to give fingerprints, biometric details such as a facial scan and a wealth of personal details – including second homes, driving licence and insurance numbers.

All will be stored on a giant ID cards Register, which can be accessed by accredited Whitehall departments, banks and businesses.

While The ID Cards Bill was going through Parliament, peers agreed an “opt out” with Ministers for people who needed a passport, but did not want to participate in the ID cards scheme.

It was the only way the Lords would accept the legislation, amid howls of concern that it represents yet another move towards a surveillance society.

But, as Mr Hall’s comments this week make clear, the opt-out only applies to being physically issued with a card.

In order to get a passport, people will still have to hand over all their personal details for storage on the ID cards Register – where they will be treated in the same was as those who agreed to sign-up.

They simply avoid getting the card – even though they will have to pay the full combined price of £93 for an ID card and passport.

It means that, despite the Government repeatedly insisting the scheme is voluntary, the only way to avoid signing-up is to never obtain or renew a passport.

I love London but boy am I happy that I don’t live there right now.