Feeds

Homeland Security plays real reasonable on Real ID

Chertoff: technology will make privacy better

High performance access to file storage

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 Real ID Act had required states to put the new system in place by May 11 2008. The DHS recommendation will allow extensions until the end of 2009. The program should see the country's 245 million licensed drivers Real ID-compliant by the close of 2013.

The DHS agreed that the expected cost to state governements of implementing Real ID, will be $11bn. Congress in Washington has ponied up $100m.

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. None of this is top secret stuff."

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. Further, Chertoff said the way that organisations use data from a Real ID is a matter for state legislatures.

RFID is still under consideration. But to begin with, Real ID driving licenses and ID cards will carry a two-dimensional barcode. Chertoff played down the distinction between data on a chip and data printed on plastic or paper. He said: "I don't think that technology increases the threat to privacy. Whether you read the card and copy it down or whether you run the magnetic strip through like you do with a credit card, I think the bottom line is the person who gets the card can read the information."

He added: "I don’t think that technology makes it worse. In fact, I actually think it makes it better."

Such a comment is unlikely to pacify opponents: the rules would effectively create a national database of personal data callable by any state. 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.

The DHS is taking comments for 60 days. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.