Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


The Real-ID Theft Act of 2005

The “Real ID” act is likely to get written into law, in two ways. First, it will pass the Senate, and be signed into law. Second, it will be one of the best examples of the law of unintended consequences in a long time.

The bill would force states* to fingerprint people, and do various gimmicky things to improve the quality of theatre surrounding the cards. When these things happen, everyone will need an ID card, and reliance on the cards will increase.

The 10 million Mexicans living illegally in the US will need to get real cards. To do so will require them, not to create fake identities and get cards issued in them, but to adopt the identities of Americans in the databases. Which is to say, mine.
Some might object that “fingerprinting will protect us,” but they’re wrong. producing fake fingerprints is understood technology, and a little nudge, nudge from the folks at the DMV will be all that’s needed.

A story that Ian Grigg picked up pointed to the 1986 immigration act as the start of the ID Theft epidemic.

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

* De facto, not de jure.

5 comments on "The Real-ID Theft Act of 2005"

  • Cypherpunk says:

    Do you seriously think that these 10 million Mexicans are going to come into the DMV with fake fingers made of jelly and stick them onto the fingerprint readers? Come on!

  • adam says:

    Actually, I expect them to surprise me, and creatively solve the problem of “How to stay illegally in the US.” The most surprising thing they could do would be to pack up and go home. I don’t expect that, but just about anything else.

  • Iang says:

    I wonder how much correlation there is between identity regulations and identity theft? Would it be possible to draw a timeline of regulatory events with growth of theft?

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Somewhere in northern NJ, Tony Soprano is now being briefed on a great upcoming business opportunity —
    1. set up a front corporation
    2. buy database records from, say, ChoicePoint
    3. “clone” these known-good identities
    4. sell the cloned identities to the government-created market for them
    5. PROFIT

  • Cypherpunk says:

    I’m pissed now. I went to check the Real ID Act. The first google hit took me to HR 418 on
    The closest to a biometric is that the DL has to have a digital photograph of the person. The states must “Subject each person applying for a driver’s license or identification card to mandatory facial image capture”.
    I am sick of people blatantly lying in online discussions in order to make their case stronger. They put ideology above reason and truth. They would rather rant and rave about each new Big Brother horror we face than discuss the reality of the situation.
    I’m not saying you did this, Adam; I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you were misled about the nature of this bill just as I was. But I hope you will go to the people who fed you this false information and hold them accountable. You should feel angry, as I do, about being used and manipulated into believing falsehoods about what this bill actually says.
    In the long run, reality matters. When people use lies to instill fear based on false claims, then once the truth comes out, they will be discredited. And then even their true arguments will lose force.
    If you want to argue against this bill, take on the burden of addressing what it actually says. Don’t just believe the characterization of its opponents, even when they are your friends and allies. Think for yourself. I started doing that a few years ago and it’s really opened up my eyes. I encourage you to do the same thing.

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