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March 2, 2007

Melissa Ngo
Director, EPIC Identification and Surveillance Project
(202) 483-1140 ext. 123

WASHINGTON, DC - Two years after Congress rushed through passage of 
the REAL ID Act, the Department of Homeland Security announced yesterday
proposed regulations that would turn the state driver's license into a
national identity card. The estimated cost of the plan exceeds $11
billion. Proposals to repeal Real ID have been adopted in the states and
introduced in Congress.

Under the regulations, DHS will impose new requirements on state motor
vehicle agencies so that the federal government can link together
databases. The federal agency claims that no national ID database will
be created under these regulations, because there will not be a single
database maintained by a federal agency. However, the national
identification system will include the personal information of 245
million license and state ID cardholders across the country.

"REAL ID centralizes authority over personal identity into one database
and one card, which increases both the number of security risks as well
as the scope of harm when it occurs. This national ID proposal is
inherently flawed," said Melissa Ngo, Director of EPIC's Identification
and Surveillance Project.

According to Bruce Schneier, security expert and member of the EPIC
Board of Directors, "The REAL ID regulations do not solve problems of
the national ID card, which will fail when used by someone intent on
subverting that system. Evildoers will be able steal the identity -- and
profile -- of an honest person, doing an end-run around the REAL ID

The regulations state that Homeland Security considered using the REAL
ID card for purposes other than "accessing Federal facilities, boarding
commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants," but chose to
limit the uses "at this time." In the regulations, Homeland Security
said it "may expand" the uses in the future.

The creation of a national ID scheme under the REAL ID regulations comes
at a time when security breaches and identity theft are on the rise. For
the seventh year in a row, identity theft is the No. 1 concern of U.S.
consumers, according to the Federal Trade Commission's annual report.
Over 100 million data records of U.S. residents have been exposed due to
security breaches since February 2005, according to a report from the
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

"The problem is that security doesn't come through identification;
security comes through measures -- airport screening, walls and door
locks -- that work without relying on identification," Schneier said.

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