Define That Term #46
Define That Term #47

I Need to See Your Papers, Ma'am

I was unaware that in May of 2005 Congress passed the Real ID Act until I read a post regarding national ID cards on the knownunknowns blog. 

As explained in this article, the Real ID Act, which will become effective in 2008, will require anyone who lives or works in the United States to have a federally approved ID card in order to open a bank account, travel on an airplane, collect Social Security payments or take advantage of virtually any government service.  It is expected that all driver's licenses will have to be re-issued by each state to meet federal standards set by Homeland Security. 

The information that will be stored on the card includes:

At a minimum: name, birth date, sex, ID number, a digital photograph, address, and a "common machine-readable technology" that Homeland Security will decide on. The card must also sport "physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes."

Homeland Security is permitted to add additional requirements--such as a fingerprint or retinal scan--on top of those. We won't know for a while what these additional requirements will be.

The information will probably be stored on the cards using RFID chips:

In the past, Homeland Security has indicated it likes the concept of RFID chips. The State Department is already going to be embedding RFID devices in passports, and Homeland Security wants to issue RFID-outfitted IDs to foreign visitors who enter the country at the Mexican and Canadian borders. The agency plans to start a yearlong test of the technology in July at checkpoints in Arizona, New York and Washington state.

It all sounds kosher and happy, doesn't it?  We trust our leader and Homeland Security, right?  Not so fast.

According to this article, the Department of Homeland Security is currently seeking technology that can read these government issued documents embedded with RFID chips:

from up to 25 feet away, pinpoint pedestrians on street corners, and glean the identity of people whizzing by in cars at 55 miles per hour....DHS is seeking RFID devices that 'can be sensed remotely, passively, and automatically....The device must be readable under all kinds of indoor and outdoor conditions... and while carried by pedestrians or vehicle occupant.'

As set forth in this document originating with Homeland Security:

DHS has set "several high-level goals" for the reading of RFID "tokens" carried by travelers, including:

• The solution must...identify the exact location of the read such as a specific pedestrian or vehicle lane in which the token is read.
• The solution presented must sense the remote data capture technology carried by a pedestrian traveler at distances up to 25 ft.
• The solution presented must sense all tokens carried by travelers seated in a single automobile, truck, or bus at a distance up to 25 ft. while moving at speeds up to 55 mph.
• For bus traffic, the solution must sense up to 55 tokens.
• For a successful read, the traveler should not have to hold or present the token in any special way to enable the reading of the token's information. The goal is for the reader to sense a token carried on a traveler's person or anywhere in a vehicle.

Is this truly happening in America?  Where is the outrage?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


The "solution" is Easypass?

Nicole Black

What an idea! You're full of them lately! Call them right now, Slick, before someone beats you to it. I bet there's a lot of money to be had if you can get that gov't contract.


On a more serious note: I think you have some good points and that the use of sensing equipment at times where you would not ordinarily be aware or informed that your ID was being checked should be regulated.

The comments to this entry are closed.