Marc Rotenberg, questions about "Real Id"

Here is a link to a short but interesting piece by Marc Rotenberg, “Real ID, Real Trouble?”, that appeared in the March 3, 2006 “Inside Risks” column of the journal CACM (Communications of the ACM). In the piece, Rotenberg argues that while there are many objections and questions that have arisen about the U.S. “Real ID” plan, his concern is with data security:

Several objections have been raised about the plan, including privacy and cost, but the most significant concern may be security. As Bruce Schneier has explained, “The biggest risk of a national ID system is the database. Any national ID card assumes the existence of a national database, and that database can fail. Large databases of information always have errors and outdated information.” Even if the identity documents are maintained in the states, problems are likely.

One example concerns the vulnerability of the state agencies that collect the personal information that is used to produce the license. In 2005, the burglary of a Las Vegas Department of Motor Vehicles put thousands of driver’s license holders at risk for identity theft. The information of at least 8,738 license and ID card holders was taken during the break-in, and reports of identity theft have already surfaced. Another report uncovered 10 “license-for-bribe” schemes in state DMVs in 2004.

Of course, what applies to general identification systems like this, also may apply to voter identification systems …