Monday, April 30, 2007

On the way to Computers, Freedom, and Privacy

The boarding area for the flight from San Francsco to Montreal was filled with people headng off to CFP. [My keyboard is havng problems, especially the 'I' key, so apologies n advance if things are somewhat hard to read.] We chatted with people like Jennifer Granick and other folks from the Stanford Center for the Internet and Society and ex-EFFer Alex Fowler of Price Waterhouse Coopers; Whit Diffie of Sun (inventor of public key cryptography!) was a few people ahead of us in the boarding line. This year's program looks great; the theme is autonomy, there are a lot of sessions focused on identity and surveillance, and as always there's a lot of different perspectives, with a mix of academics, government and corporate types, non-profits, students, hackers, and activists.

The network around CFP is one of the many hotbeds of resistance to Real ID. In fact, I met people like Jim Harper (now at the Cato Institute), Mike Stollenwork (Fairfax County Privacy Council), and Katherine Albrecht (Spychips) for the first time at past CFPs. Last year, Sonya Hipper (who designed our logo) was on a social networking panel that Deborah organized; Bill Scannell ( and Bruce Schneier (who along with Jim Harper has done some of the best writing on Real ID's flaws from a security perspective) both gave keynotes a couple of years ago. What's really exciting about grassroots activism is that it's an opportunity for this network to intersect with others ...

In any case, CFP 2007 should be interesting, and fun, and I'm looking forward to spending time in Montreal as the fight against Real ID goes international!


I've commented. And you?

Following these easy instructions, I left my comments on the Real ID Act today. It wasn't hard. It took a few minutes to type my thoughts, but the site is quite easy to use and the process couldn't have been much easier.

PLUS… I mean, really now… it's the right thing to do. The way I figure it, we can all be part of this process, or we can let an opportunity to speak up slip away. And why should we? Yes, it's easier NOT to comment… … NOT to make the effort… NOT to feel like you've emerged from the safety of a turtle shell. But where's the good in that? Everyone, on both sides of this issue, should leave comments or attend tomorrow's Town Hall or send in good, solid questions via email. Not only is it our chance to speak, it's our responsibility.

And speaking for myself now that I've commented… I have to tell you it feels good.

I'd love to hear if you've commented, or if you've had a different reaction than I have. Commenting closes on May 8th, so you still have time. And honestly… what are you waiting for?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Heading into the homestretch for comments ...

The May 8 deadline for filing comments to the DHS is fast approaching, and it seems like everybody's getting ready for the home stretch. As well as our instructions for filing comments page, EFF's online FAX page makes submission really easy; the ACLU's page has some great suggestions for writing comments ("don't feel like you need to include everything") and an extensive list of talking points that make a great complement to ours. There's starting to be some really good video out there -- and we're about to be releasing some, too, to go with the podcast Deborah and Kara did earlier in the month.

So far there are a little less than 2,000 comments submitted -- which is a long way from our goal of 100,000. Still, I'm optimistic; comments usually don't start to arrive until the last minute, and on top of that I think the combination DHS/California DMV Town Hall meeting and webcast on May 1 followed by the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2007 conference is likely to (finally!) start getting Real ID more attention in the mainstream media and blogosphere.

No way to know for sure, but it really feels to me like the grassroots energy is building and is about to break loose. With any luck at all, the next ten days will be pretty exciting!


Agenda for May 1 "Town Hall" meeting

Here's the aganed for the Town Hall meeting on Real ID jointly sponsored by DHS and the California DMV -- and remember that it's also being webcast!

REAL ID Town Hall Meeting

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

University of California, Davis
Freeborn Hall
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

The REAL ID Town Hall Meeting is being hosted by the State of California (DMV) and sponsored by the federal Department of Homeland Security. The forum is designed to seek public comment on the federal REAL ID Act.


10:00 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. Welcome and Introduction HSI Moderator

10:05 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Introductory Comments Dr. Richard Barth
Assistant Secretary
Office of Policy Development
Dept. of Homeland Security

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Introductory Remarks George Valverde, Director California DMV

10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Ground rules/introduction HSI Moderator of subject areas

Open Comment Period by Topic Areas

10:20 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. Consumer/Personal Impact Perspective

10:55 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Privacy/Security

11:30 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. -- B R E A K –

11:40 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Electronic Verification Systems

12:15 p.m. – 12:50 p.m. Funding/Implementation/Time Frames

12:50 p.m. – 1:25 p.m. Law Enforcement

1:25 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. General Open Comment Opportunity

2:00 p.m. Closing Comments/Remarks HSI Moderator

A sign-up list for making comments will be available at the door upon entering Freeborn Hall. Comments will be limited. In order to facilitate as many people as possible, please try to arrive by 9:30 a.m., as the event will begin promptly at 10. Ample parking at UC Davis will be available.

Poems for privacy III: Sun peeking through clouds

I woke up this morning in San Francisco (Deborah and I are flying from here to Computers Freedom and Privacy in Montreal on Monday) and even though it's overcast, there are hints of sun peeking through. Which in turn made me think (in haiku form)...

Sun peeking through clouds,
Awakening energy.
Stop Real ID Now!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stop Real ID Now stickers, buttons, t-shirts ...

... are available at PrivacyActivism's Cafe Press store -- all featuring Sonya Hipper's great logo. Protest in style!

If you'd like to make your own, feel free to use any of the images here.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Town Hall Meeting on May 1st to be webcast

And here's the link to register: Town Hall Webcast. There is a note there that says

You may submit comments via an email link that will be provided on this website approximately 90 minutes before the broadcast.

Good to know! (I'd note, by the way, that when you enter the domain name the registration page is the page that comes up. While it does bear the logo of DHS, there is nothing else on the site that definitively confirms that this is, in fact, a DHS related site. I would think it is, however, and look forward to being able to hear the webcast)


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Real ID "Day of action" on May 1?

The opposition to Real ID continues to grow, but it's still hard to get this issue on a lot of people's radar. It would really help if we had some kind of flashpoint to bring together critical mass ... and the Department of Homeland Security's "town hall" meeting in Davis on May 1 is a great opportunity.

Suppose we focused on May 1 for a coordinated day of action against Real ID. I'm thinking of things like getting bloggers to cover the various issues about Real ID, in-person get-togethers everywhere in bars and cafes, discussions on the various social networks and in chat, asking people to put the logo on their pages (or as their chat avatar) ... and asking organizations to issue media releases and send mail out to their members, all with a focus on getting the word out and filing comments.

Sure, time's really short -- it's only a week away -- but we have everything we need in place to make this happen. This could kick our commenting drive into high gear -- and hopefully increase the intensity of media coverage.

What do people think of the idea?


Monday, April 23, 2007

It's everywhere, and yet...

There's beginning to be a steady trickle of articles in newspapers and buzz in the blogosphere about Real ID, but hardly enough to make the issues related to the Real ID Act be heard. In fact, today a survey was released (as reported here, for example) showing that Americans support "uniform license standards" with follow-up questions showing that 44% would approve of a national biometrics ID card. Ahhh, but there's a big difference between "A" card and "THE" card as proposed by the Real ID Act, let alone that Real ID is far more than uniform license standards.

This is where we all come in to play. As legislation opposing Real ID works its way through many states (you can keep track of what's going on in the states on the ACLU's handy interactive, Real Nightmare state map), we all need to keep the discussion focused on the issues in play, many of which are discussed in our talking points. As our group and others like us keep growing, it's key to make sure the discussions stay on track, so that we can be the signal that rises above the noise.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Department of Homeland Security "Town Hall" meeting in California -- May 1!

If you are in the Sacramento/Davis area of California, here is something you can do directly!

The Department of Homeland Security is holding a town hall meeting on Real ID on Tuesday, May 1st.

It will be located at Freeborn Hall at UC Davis from 10 AM to 2 PM.

If you're able, go, and ask hard questions.
A strong presence at the town hall meeting will go a long way in helping to kill Real ID.

And please, spread the word. If you can't go, maybe some of your friends and family can make it.


A good get-together!

Thanks to the folks who came by the Stop Real ID Now get-together in SF yesterday. There were 10 of us there -- including several new folks -- and so there were great discussions on all kinds of different topics. Deborah gave a short overview talk, then it was question-and-answer and discussion for the next forty-five minutes ... and then most people stayed for another half hour or so and talked more about how we can get the word out, and a lot of creative ideas came up -- street mimes, for example!

I took notes, and after I clean them up a little I'll post them in the next day or so.

Thanks to Brandy Reynolds of the BARK ACLU for organizing, and to the ACLU of Northern California for hosting!


Real ID legislation in the states

At this point, five states have rejected Real ID (Christine Gregoire signed the bill in Washington yesterday), and a bunch of others have passed legislation in one chamber or another. The ACLU's Real Nightmare site has a great page on this: a map that lets you quickly see the status across the country, and a state-by-state list of bills with links if you want to delve into more detail. Well worth checking out!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reminder: SF get-together tonight!

Just wanted to remind people about the "Stop Real ID Now" at 7 p.m. tonight, 39 Drumm St., San Francisco. Deborah Pierce of PrivacyActivism will be speaking and answering questions, and there will be light refreshments -- which I'm about to go out and buy as soon as I'm done with this post. Details here.

See you there!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

And then there were four -- Montana says "no" to Real ID

The Governor of Montana today signed a bill rejecting the state's participation in the Real ID Act. Per this article on the Billings Gazette site...

Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed a law Tuesday rejecting national driver's licenses for Montanans, saying the message to the federal government was "no, nope, no way, hell no."

I wonder what he really means?

Maine, Idaho and Arkansas are the three other states that have passed and signed similar bills; in Washington, the bill has passed both branches of the legislature but hasn't been signed yet. Thanks to this great post on the blog Grits for Breakfast, you can learn about a resolution in the Texas House that will reject Real ID unless the Federal government pays for it. The resolution also mentions data security and identity theft, even though cost appears to be the biggest issue.


Monday, April 16, 2007

What's happening this week -- and how you can help

In addition to the San Francisco get-together Thursday evening, we're working towards a broad media launch for Stop Real ID Now late this week.

Some of the questions we're likely to get from the media include "how many people are involved?" and "how much momentum do you have?" We want to have good answers for these. So please:
  • - introduce yourself in the who we are thread
  • - get the word out: to your friends and family, by forwarding the new Real Nightmare video, in comments on articles and blog posts (see the first two paragraphs of Jon's comment here for an example), in discussion forums, email, phone calls, on your blog if you have one, as MySpace bulletins ...
  • - file comments if you haven't already -- and copy your congresspeople, too!
If you've got other ideas for ways to help (or things we should be doing), please add them in a reply to this post or bring them up in one of the discussion groups.



Sunday, April 15, 2007

Who we are

The Stop Real ID Now activism campaign is made up of people from all over the US and outside, with many different political perspectives, and all kinds of different backgrounds. We'll use this thread to introduce ourselves.

If you'd like to join us, just reply (with your real name or a pseudonym, and a link off to your web site or profile page if you want) and tell us something about why you want to get involved ... and welcome!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

San Francisco get-together: April 19, 7 p.m.

Our strategy for the grassroots activism campaign is to combine outreach via social networks with real-world get-togethers ... and so we're delighted to announce the first one!

It's at 7 p.m. next Thursday, April 19 at the ACLU of Northern California's San Francisco headquarters (39 Drumm St.) I'll be speaking and answering questions, and light refreshments will be served -- details in this post on free-association. If you're in the SF bay area, I hope to see you there!

If you're interested in helping to organize or host a get-together in your area, please let us know -- and we'll post the collateral that we're producing for the SF get-together so that people can reuse it however they want.


PS: Many thanks to Brandy for organizing this event!

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Real ID: A Real Nightmare", the video


The piece features Bill Cattorini, a retired Chicago fireman who has been caught in a bureaucratic limbo due to a discrepancy between his birth date as listed on his driver’s license and the date on his social security card. That was never an issue until Illinois began trying to comply with some parts of Real ID. Now Cattorini can’t drive.

Also up on YouTube here ...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Real ID and identity theft

A recent alert from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (which has worked with thousands of victims of identity theft) highlights some of the reasons why Real ID Will Increase Exposure to ID Theft.

Real ID creates new opportunities for id thiefs by requiring DMVs to store a huge amount of personal information in databases that can be stolen, and by requiring that all this personal information is available on a drivers license for bars, merchants, or anybody else to scan. [Bruce Schneier points out that this information will then be resold to data aggregators like Choicepoint ... remember them?]

Just as importantly, PRC explains why Real ID is likely to make things much more difficult for victims of identity theft:

A lot of what makes it so difficult for victims is that they run up against a presumption that the transactions completed in their name are legitimate. Banks, merchants, and other creditors assume that the purchases that were made and the loans that were given belong to the victim – and the victim is forced to prove otherwise.

Real ID may just strengthen that presumption. If someone succeeds in getting a counterfeit Real ID under your name, you’ll have to confront a perception that Real IDs are more secure and difficult to obtain fraudulently.

The proposed Real ID explicitly punt on these issues: "DHS believes that it would be outside its authority to address this issue within this rulemaking." Anita Ramasastry has a good response to this in her FindLaw column:

DHS itself should be forced to confront, not dodge, the important privacy, security and identity theft issues the REAL ID program raises. In addition, the federal government should pay the tab for addressing the information-security issues its legislation will predictably create.

Poems for Privacy (part 2)

Continuing to combine National Poetry Month and privacy, I offer up another poem, on a different theme. Oh, and be sure to check out the first Poem for Privacy post for the Real ID Lullaby in the comments!

by GKP

They watch when you’re shopping and driving and eating.
They watch who you’re calling and watch who you’re meeting.
They watch where you’re surfing and watch who you’re mailing,
But tables are turned with some inverse surveilling.
Then you’ll know the places that they’ll know you’re going
Since they watched your to-ing but you watched their fro-ing.
And if you would log what you know on the ‘net
Then the watchers would know that they’re less of a threat.
Since spiers when spied on, I think it’s apparent,
Are quite like a mirror that’s fully transparent.
So don’t just take action – record it, transmit it.
If that’s viewed as sin then I say “go commit it.”
Yes, spend your time watching and spend your time blogging.
Buy wearable cameras and learn cyborglogging.
Then soon in a fate that would be quite ironic
Big Brother would find the world panopticonic.

Stop Real ID Now logo!

Thanks to Sonya Hipper for designing the Stop Real ID Now logo! We wanted something that would get our message across clearly and at the same time capture the breadth of the opposition to Real ID. And it's pretty, too!

Differet sizes and formats of the image are available here -- all under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence, so please feel free to share and remix.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Washington is fourth state to reject Real ID: 95-2 in House!

As a Washington state resident, I'm delighted to report this one:

The measure directs the state not to spend money to implement the act unless privacy and security protections have been met, the implementation doesn't place unreasonable costs or record-keeping burdens on citizens, and the state has received federal money to put the act's requirements into effect.

The bill also allows the state attorney general, with the approval of the governor, to challenge the legality or constitutionality of the act....

The Senate had already passed a similar bill, and the governor has said she'll sign it; so Washington now joins Arkansas, Idaho, and Maine as officially rejecting the current implmentation of Real ID. Estimated cost in Washington state is about $190 million over the next four years.

As the ACLU's press release points out, the overwhelming margins of these votes against Real ID show that it's a bipartisan issue.

If we can take the momentum that's being generated in the states and generate a tidal wave of comments, this should really strengthen the effort in Congress to repeal the whole act ...


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The M's speak...

News from both Minnesota and Montana over the past two days. In Minnesota, expense is the biggest issue, even though the state has a recently upgraded driver's license program of their own. And, from an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune...

...Real ID Act impinges on the states' rights to handle issuing of driver's licenses, is unfunded by the federal government and isn't practical.

In Montana, the House passed a bill already approved by the Senate that rejects the Real ID Act... though that wouldn't be effective until October so there would be time to review all DHS released documents. There was an interesting quote from the end of this article about the news, showing that there are many different views on what the Act actually is....

Montana is among a number of state legislatures throughout the country rejecting Real ID, which seeks to crack down on illegal immigration by requiring proof of residency as a minimum standard for states to issue drivers’ licenses.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Update -- and this week's priorities

Friday afternoon I was on a conference call with people from several organizations opposing Real ID: as well as myself from PrivacyActivism, there were people from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, EFF, Eagle Forum, and several different branches of the ACLU. There was a quick update on legislative opposition, both in the states and Congress, and we also talked about the commenting process for the DHS draft regulations. People liked our approach to a social network-based activism campaign, and think that our web site is very a valuable resource. Once we're ready to get the word out broadly (probably by the end of the week), we'll go back and ask them to forward links to the site on to their members.

Most groups are still working on their comments. We're ahead of the curve, so now's a good time to start a broader outreach -- that way there will already be a lot of be lots of buzz which will continue as new folks join in. If we build this buzz, we can get a lot of attention on the issue the last week in April and first week in May. We're planning on issuing our first media release by next Tuesday the 17th; our San Francisco get-together is on track for Thursday the 19th, and that will also be a chance to start getting some press.

This week, the priority is to continue to get people involved: in the discussion groups, on the blog, volunteering. Please reach out to your friends. The What's wrong with Real ID page is a good summary of the issues, and the blog is a good place to send people to find out more. We're also trying to nail down several more get-togethers -- and of course now's a good time to start filing comments.

I'll be somewhat low-key this week as I'm working on the comments PrivacyActivism is filing jointly with several other organizations (an expanded version of the three-page draft already up on our site). Expect to see me doing more blogging and media work starting next week!


Poems for Privacy

April happens to be National Poetry Month, as well as what will likely be the most intense period of Real ID conversation. One key issue that pops up when discussing Real ID is privacy... and so, what better than to combine that with poetry for a little fun with a purpose? Right -- nothing could be better, other than chocolate.

And so, I toss out the first Poem for Privacy and encourage you all to join in.

by GKP

Across the whole spectrum there’s no one who’s for it:
The Left and the Right and the Center abhor it.
Dislike’s not enough, though – we need stronger laws
That offer protection without giant flaws,
Since, info, we know, always wants to be free…
And safeguards are needed so you can’t be me.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

New Hampshire House rejects Real ID: 268-8

The New Hampshire House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reject the federal REAL ID Act as amounting to the creation of a national ID card.

The House voted 268-8 to send the bill to the Senate that would bar the state from complying with the federal act that sets standards for driver's licenses.

Gov. John Lynch has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk....

''It is probably the worst piece of blackmail to come out of the federal government. This is pure, unadulterated blackmail,'' said. Rep. Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry....

Earlier this year, Lynch reiterated his concerns that too many questions remained about the cost, privacy and turning motor vehicle workers into de facto agents of Homeland Security

See the full story -- and check out this the New Hampshire public radio story on this.

New Hampshire has been one of the hotbeds of opposition to Real ID. Check out the video of the Real ID protest and the Granite State ID site for more. Live free or die!


And over in South Carolina...

Per an article in The State (Columbia, SC's newspaper), the South Carolina state Senate rejected participation in the Real ID Act unless the federal government pays the additional costs associated with it AND addresses concerns about the rules. One interesting specific in the article points to a huge potential problem with the Real ID Act:

Lawmakers also are concerned about what Real ID would mean to S.C. residents, especially the estimated 700,000 retirees who might not be able to produce the birth certificates, Social Security cards or other documents required to receive a new ID.

Clearly not all the 700,000 would have a problem, but just as likely there are many non-retirees who would. This is where the exceptions and workarounds built into the Act come into play... and by their very nature end up weakening the efficacy of the proposed program itself.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Podcast up!

Radicalguy (aka Ethan St. Pierre) has posted a podcast of his interview with Deborah and Kara. From the description:

This week's guests are transgender activist,Kara Michelle Harkins and Deborah Pierce. Deborah is a privacy lawyer and the executive director of the organization Privacy Activism. Deborah will discuss the history of the real ID act and it's imposition on the privacy and constitutional rights of all Americans and Kara will discuss how the real ID act specifically affects the transgender community.

I thought it was a great interview -- well worth checking out!


Thursday, April 5, 2007

And up in New Hampshire...

The Union Leader ran an editorial yesterday urging the NH State House and Senate to say "no" to Real ID. Of the various issues that make the Real ID Act troubling, they focused on privacy concerns:

This national database of personal information would be a hacker's mother lode. And if you think it would be safe in the federal government's hands, just remember those FBI laptops.

It will be interesting to see as the month progresses how many editorials appear, and what areas they focus on, whether for or against Real ID.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Real ID Watch blog

There's already an excellent blog covering Real ID: John R.'s Real ID Watch. He's a self-described conservative Tennessean, and it's interesting to look at the commonalities -- and the differences -- between the the top-priority reasons he opposes Real ID and what other people list. He also does a thorough job discussing the issues, and has some excellent links to and excerpts from editorials. Worth checking out!


Sunday, April 1, 2007


Welcome to the Stop Real ID Now blog. Not surprisingly, we'll be talking a lot here about the Real ID Act of 2005... and more specifically about an activism campaign that will use the power of blogs, social networks and art as well as creating partnerships and using media outreach to, we hope, stop the Real ID Act in its tracks. To stop it, however, we need you... and lots of "yous"... to help out.

But before we get into the "how?" of that, the key thing is to understand the "why?" And for that, it's easier to send you to a couple of other places. The
StopRealID website
has lots of information about issues with the Real ID Act -- including its expense ($20 billion!), privacy issues, and exemptions that mean it won't actually keep us safer. If you've got some questions or would like to discuss the issues, please visit the RealID Activism Myspace group, Yahoo! group, or other discussion forums. There's also information in all these places about what we hope to accomplish, and you can see who is already helping out. And yes, there you'll see the "how?" of it all... and why we need you to help.

We're looking forward to an exciting few weeks ahead, and we hope you'll be a part of it with us.