Friday, January 11, 2008

DHS releases revised REAL ID regulations

DHS has released revised REAL ID regulations -- 284 pages long. While according to government jargon these are the "final" regulations, the first deadline for compliance has now been pushed back to December 31, 2009, so there's still plenty of opportunity for Congress to act and change things.

Their press release now spins the system as "preventing document fraud", and talks more about the costs of identity theft than it does about terrorism -- pretty amusing in light of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's Real ID Act will increase exposure to identity theft. It also trumpets substantial cost savings, which it attributes primarily to revisions giving the states "greater flexibility in issuing licenses to older Americans". Flexibility is a good thing, but it'll be interesting to see what new holes they've introduced for terrorists and identity thieves to exploit.

I'm sure we'll start to see responses from civil liberties groups and others soon; we'll update with links as they come out.

Friday, May 25, 2007

New Hampshire says "no" to Real ID...

... and who's next?

The NH Senate unaminously approved a bill that bars the state from complying with the Real ID Act, and the Governor says he'll sign it. That's good news in the move to stop the implementation of Real ID.

One refrain that's clear in every rejection is that cost is a huge concern for the states. As documented here and many other places, there are other major problems with the Real ID Act. It's important to keep those other issues at the forefront of this debate in case somehow cost becomes less of a concern due to... well... to someone printing more money, I suppose!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Real ID all over

Despite a semi silence hereabouts, Real ID news is flying fast and furious.

If you want to get up to speed quickly, head on over to's page devoted to Real ID news. You'll see there a link to the Real ID listserv that EPIC has set up as well as all the news in Congress and the states. And check out Dissent's blog there, too, for all sorts of tidbits.

The states continue to show opposition to the Real ID act, but at this point, the action is in Congress and in awaiting the DHS' next iteration of their proposal. Staying informed and active remains important, since this issue isn't going away any time soon....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Want some news with your news?

News continues on the Real ID front, even after the close of public comment window.

Today comes news from Nevada that they've chopped the budget for Real ID, approving only 100K this year to hire a project manager who would submit the state's plan to implement Real ID. This is kinda a "wait and see" approach -- not opting out, but clearly not pushing forward until any possible repeal or changes are made public.

The news from Oregon is certainly no endorsement of Real ID itself, though while rejecting Real ID, the state senate approved changes to require state licenses only be issued to those who can prove they are in the country legally.

There's news from Missouri, Georgia, and other states as well. The interactive map at the ACLU site is handy-dandy for this. Also, there continues to be lots of good commentary on the web, including John R.'s excellent Real ID Watch blog.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

So much news, so little time....

The public comment period is closed, as noted, but that doesn't mean that Real ID has suddenly disappeared nor does it mean that the work to prevent its proposed implementation is done.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont seems to be driving action in the US Senate in terms of revisiting (or perhaps repealing?) Real ID. And at last count, 33 states have pending or passed bills refusing to comply with the Act. Tuesday, for example, Oregon's Senate will be debating such a bill.

The ACLU's Real Nightmare site has this handy-dandy state map to help keep on top of the news. And keep checking in at the Privacy Coalition's Stop Real ID page for updates, too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

DHS spokesman: "we received 12,000 comments"

WASHINGTON, May 8 — The Homeland Security Department said Tuesday that it would plow ahead with national standards for driver’s licenses, despite a highly unusual level of activity by state legislatures opposed to the idea, and substantial second thoughts in Congress.

The department said it had received about 12,000 public responses to its draft rules, in a 60-day comment period that ended Tuesday. Russ Knocke, a spokesman, said the comments were mixed.

Matthew Wald writes in the New York Times. I'm kind of curious what time Knocke gave that estimate; most of the article is a discussion of the Leahy hearing yesterday, which started at 10 a.m. EST ... and I'm sure comments are continuing to trickle in after the deadline. Still, it's a first stake in the ground.

As for "mixed" ... I've been spot-checking comments all week long and they seem to be running at least 80% anti-Real ID both at the individual and the organizational level -- and the chatter in the blogosphere near the deadline was overwhelmingly anti, 95% or more. So we'll see just how "mixed" it really is.

No word in the article about timeframe for posting or responding to comments.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Phase 1 completed -- thanks, and what next

First of all, thank you to everyone who has helped with this part of the campaign against Real ID, including sending comments. I'd particularly like to thank the Real ID activism groups on Free Association, Tribe, and Myspace; Greg for handling the bulk of the blogging here; and of course the 60 other organizations in the Privacy Coalition. We couldn't have gotten this far without you.

This first part of the campaign was a whirlwind -- we only had 60 days to build the campaign, get media coverage, and round up as many people as we could to send in comments. It was a big job. To make our lives more difficult, the DHS had troubles with their fax capabilities and their web site. It was only during the last 24 hours that they made available an email address that people could use to send in their comments. It will likely be at least a week before we know exactly how many people sent in comments.

Now that this phase is done, what do we do?

Now is the time to follow up with congress people, if you haven't done so already. Colorado is now on the list of states that don't want to follow Real ID. I was on a conference call today (May 8) with the EPIC privacy coalition group, and one of the people on the call had just testified before a small group of Senators about the privacy and security flaws with Real ID. He's a security expert and got a very warm reception.

At some point, the DHS will do one of three things: 1) announce that they have adopted a rule to implement Real ID - with or without our comments being taken into account, 2) defer adopting a rule until they get more direction from Congress, or 3) re-open the comment period. In the meanwhile, Congress should be hearing from all of us that we want the Act repealed.

As for DHS? Option #3 is unlikely. It's unclear which is more likely, option #1 or option #2.

We'll keep posting here as I get new information. Please keep following the news, and help as you can.

Thanks again everyone.