TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Richard Clarke: Real ID's, Real Dangers (NY Times)

Richard Clarke: Real ID's, Real Dangers (NY Times)

Marcus Didius Falco (
Mon, 07 Mar 2005 19:01:41 -0500

From the New York Times --

Real ID's, Real Dangers

Have you ever wondered what good it does when they look at your
driver's license at the airport? Let me assure you, as a former
bureaucrat partly responsible for the 1996 decision to create a
photo-ID requirement, it no longer does any good whatsoever. The ID
check is not done by federal officers but by the same kind of
minimum-wage rent-a-cops who were doing the inspection of carry-on
luggage before 9/11.

They do nothing to verify that your license is real. For $48 you can
buy a phony license on the Internet (ask any 18-year-old) and fool
most airport ID checkers. Airport personnel could be equipped with
scanners to look for the hidden security features incorporated into
most states' driver's licenses, but although some bars use this
technology to spot under-age drinkers, airports do not. The photo-ID
requirement provides only a false sense of security.

Congress is debating the Real ID bill in part because many states have
been issuing real driver's licenses, complete with the hidden security
features, to people who have established their identities using phony
birth certificates or fake Social Security cards. Indeed, some 9/11
hijackers obtained real driver's licenses using false documents. The
Real ID bill has, however, provoked negative reaction from those who
think it has little to do with terrorism and a lot to do with making
life difficult for illegal immigrants. While the bill has passed the
House, it faces difficulty in the Senate. If portions of it do pass,
it will mean that the next time you apply for a driver's license, you
may need substantial proof that you are who you claim to be.

The Real ID legislation has caused the right and the left of the
political spectrum to worry again that a national ID card is in the
offing. Since we use licenses as de facto national ID's now, we should
make them difficult to counterfeit and relatively easy to verify. With
existing technology, that can be done. The Homeland Security
Department is testing ''smart cards'' (credit-card-size devices with
computer chips and embedded biometric information, like fingerprints)
for all workers in the transportation industry and is also
experimenting with voluntary smart cards for expedited passage through
airport security. President Bush has directed that all federal
employees, starting later this year, carry smart cards for access to
federal buildings and computer networks. Industry analysts estimate
that tens of millions of Americans will be using government-issued
smart cards in a few years.

Should we feel safer or be concerned about Big Brother government and
the loss of privacy? Since we are already widely using government-
issued ID's for a variety of purposes, employing cards that are
difficult to counterfeit seems on its face like a good idea. Verifiable,
secure ID's will certainly reduce some crimes (nine
million Americans were victims of identity theft last year, according
to the Federal Trade Commission) and may create an impediment to

I would voluntarily give up credit and other information for a card to
avoid long airport lines, but I am not sure the Internal Revenue
Service should have access to that data. Moreover, the government's
performance to date with anti-terrorism laws does not inspire trust;
the new authorities in the Patriot Act, which we readily gave the
government to fight terrorists, are now being used for a variety of
other purposes. For example, reports suggest that federal agents have
been persuading courts to order that personal records be turned over
regardless of whether there is any suspicion about the person involved
and regardless of whether the crime being investigated is linked to

If Americans are going to have to carry smart cards, we will want
fellow citizens whom we trust ensuring the data collected are not used
by the wrong people or for the wrong purposes. Technology will not
help us there; we will need strict privacy rules, truly independent
oversight and tough punishment for government abuse. Only then will we
be comfortable using the new security technologies, which actually can
make us safer. The National Intelligence Reform Act of last year
provided for a new Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which
could do the necessary work to restrain the government's tendencies to
overreach. The quality of President Bush's nominees for that board
will show how serious he is about protecting freedoms in America while
he is promoting them abroad.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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John F. McMullen

Date: Tue, 08 Mar 2005 15:46:51 GMT
From: Kevin <>
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: Voip in Northern KY
Message-ID: <>
Organization: Comcast Online
X-Telecom-Digest: Volume 24, Issue 101, Message 2 of 14
Lines: 13


Does anyone know if there's any VOIP service in Northern KY/Cincinnati
area? Per the vonage website, I can't get a number with any of the
local area codes. I don't know if that means that I can still sign up
and get a number with another area code ... which doesn't make any
sense but I guess it's possible.



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