Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Real ID and terrorism

Over at Open Society Paradox, Dennis Bailey has posted six ways he believes that the proposed Real ID program will stop terrorism (for more info on Real ID, see this report from the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress):

The Open Society Paradox: One More Time - HOW REAL ID STOPS TERRORISM.

"For those who haven't gotten it yet, here is how REAL ID will stop terrorism.

1. REAL ID will be tied to immigration status. When a foreign visitor's visa expires (as was the case with some of the 9/11 hijackers) so will the driver's license. Terrorists will no longer be able to hide in this country when their legal status expires. Warning flags will go off and they will be tracked down.

2. A more secure driver's license will make it harder for Joe Terrorist to tamper with the card, effectively locking him into a single identity. Without a single identity, what good is a terrorist watch list?

3. REAL ID requires states to link databases. This ensures that when Joe Terrorist tries to get a different ID in another state, biometrics make it possible for officials to identify that he already has an official driver's license. Once again Joe Terrorist is locked into a single identity.

4. The FBI and CIA are sharing information and through intelligence leads are now looking for Joe Terrorist. As more forms of transportation and infrastructure (banks for example) require the use of an ID tied into a central terrorist watch list, Joe Terrorist won't be able to move around the country without being flagged and arrested.

5. Now desperate, Joe Terrorist tries to buy a fake ID from a DMV employee. Unfortunately for him, each ID is tracked and inventoried and the printing machines require biometrics. As soon as an improperly printed ID comes out of the printer, alarms sound and Joe is foiled.

6. Joe Terrorist now decides that he is stuck in the country and his only resort is to become a suicide bomber. Joe Terrorist builds a bomb and explodes it on a subway. Since Mr. Terrorist had to scan his ID through the new scanners at the Washington Metro, investigators have a log of passengers and quickly learn his identity. Quickly discovering his identity allows them to identify all of his associates, some of who are planning their own suicide attacks. Putting them in jail prevents future terrorist attacks.

Of course as is frequently mentioned on this site, no technology is 100% effective. However, that does argue against its use. At the same time, IDs are only part of the equation. There must be human intelligence, data sharing, watch lists and alert citizens all working together in a world with secure IDs in order to keep us safer."

Many appear to be willing to sacrifice a measure of privacy for security in this day and age, but I think that a large portion of people who are not at either extreme in this debate will need to be satisfied that the system will not be expanded beyond Joe Terrorist to tracking Joe Deadbeat Dad or Joe Overdue Library Books.

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