Tuesday, May 1, 2007

First impressions after the Town Hall

Yes, my first reaction is geeky -- nice webcast! I must say I appreciate how well the event was run and webcast. While one can complain about this being the only such meeting, at least it was very nicely done. Now, to the content of the meeting.

There seemed to be a lot of recurring themes, concerns and phrases. To highlight a few....

"This is not a Federal program; it is a partnership with the states." Variations on this popped up all the time, but what was never addressed was exactly WHO in the states this is a partnership with. A majority of Governor's oppose it. Five states have rejected it, with legislation pending in others. DMV's don't seem to support this implementation (see below). So... who?

Security threats to the databases. This came up in comments from folks who were not otherwised focused on privacy concerns. And here the DHS members of the panel agreed with concerns, and bully for them for doing so, though they still tried to minimize the risk by noting that, for example, there is no design to have a single, centralized database with all the information. True, that single one cannot be hacked, but soooo many others now can. Here's a good link of some of the data losses that have already occured. NOT dealing with this in advance doesn't really seem so wise, does it?

"You want to know that the person sitting next to you on the plane is the person they say they are." A UC-Davis grad student, I believe, called this "solving the wrong problem." And it is not only that, but it's an attempt at putting emotions into the argument to pull attention away from the issues at hand. Here are far more cogent thoughts on why this is the wrong problem.

DMV front line workers and administrators spoke up about a raft of issues beyond cost. And they're complex issues that all point to the fact that the Real ID Act needs far fuller debate and discussion.

And finally, "the 9/11 commission recommended this." The 9/11 Commission recommended a concept. Real ID, however, is an explicit set of proposals. That is a difference... and a major one at that. Does Real ID address the concerns of the Commission and is it the best implementation of the concept? Those are the questions that need debate.

More to come... and feel free to share your reactions to the Town Hall.

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