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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

BLOG Bulletin: National ID Card Promises to Expose Largest Amount of Personal Data, Ever, In One Location

In my 35 years in junk mail as a list broker, I have seen humongous databases built and dismantled in a matter of hours. It’s called a merge/purge or, in layperson’s terms, the coming together of millions of names with all their personal data, to eliminate the duplicates. These computer runs can go into the hundreds of millions of names and take place repeatedly, on a 24/7 basis.

All things considered, the above could not begin to equal the impact that the newly passed Real ID Act will have on your privacy and, perhaps, the selling of your name. If you want a good overview of the Act, go to News.com for their FAQ’s. The new ID card, being developed from current state driver licenses, is due to take effect in May 2008.

At the least, this centralized network would include your full name, address, driving history, social security number and even your birth certificate, according to the ACLU. It would also include biometric information: your DNA, retinal scans or fingerprints. What is more important—and much more alarming—is the fact that Homeland Security has the right to add to the list of your personal data. You can go to the ACLU site to voice your disappointment to your Members of Congress.

A standalone version of the Real ID Act passed the house, but only with a margin of 261 to 161. Expecting trouble in the Senate, the sponsors tacked the act on to the Iraq spending bill to insure passage. Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner drafted the bill and you might want to tell him what you think. Eweek.com reported, “The act was pushed through without hearings or deliberation, over the objections of a coalition of 12 Democratic Senators…” Clearly, another misguided and desperate move by this Republican Congress.

Eweek.com goes on to analyze just how the Real ID Act could prove an asset to ID thieves. One such conclusion was the linking of all states’ databases into one nationwide database, resulting in the largest amount of personal data, ever, in one location. It’s one-stop shopping for the identity burglars. Other skepticisms include the ability of the government to secure the data with Homeland Security receiving four F’s in a row. This rating comes from the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Visit Eweek.com. It’s good reading before you sound off to your Congress person.

Now, for some observations:

1. Considering the bureaucracy of Homeland Security and the fact that they have to reach agreement on standards with all 50 states, how long do you think that will take?
2. If initially they require absolute identification for ID card issuance, why is it necessary to compile all the other personal information for release?
3. The requirement that the ID card must be “machine readable” could mean a magnetic strip that can house your life history of personal data, accessible each time the card is presented.

No doubt you have observations, too, and I would like to hear them and share with others.

This post Bulletin has emphasized the privacy of your name and personal data due to the enactment of the Real ID Card. We’ll get back to the taking of control and sharing the wealth in the next post.

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