SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Selling national IDs as a necessary tool for fighting terrorism helped supporters ensure the passage of the REAL ID Act, but in reality, the data-enhanced driver's licenses mandated by the law will not likely prevent terrorism, security and policy experts said on Thursday at the RSA Conference.
The REAL ID Act, which became law by a political maneuver attaching it to a critical spending bill, requires that state driver's licenses meet criteria set by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be effective tools to identify people. For many states, that's a problem, said panelist member Linda Lewis-Pickett, the president and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
"The mission creep of the license has really left the DMVs (Departments of Motor Vehicles) back in smoke," she said. "I think each state agency has looked at DMVs as revenue generators--'Come in and pay taxes and give us money.' All of that has changed. They are now the identity management system."
The panel members agreed that a national ID will not be an effective tool to fight terrorism. The cost, which the Citizens Against Government Waste estimates at $9 billion to $13 billion over 6 years, will be a bad use of taxpayer money, argued panelist Bruce Schneier, a security expert and chief technology officer for Counterpane Internet Security.
"Going back to 9-11, every one of those terrorists had an ID," he said. "Some of them had forged IDs, some used their real name, and some of them got real IDs with a fake names by bribing a motor-vehicles clerk."
Posted by: Robert Lemos