Friday, March 02, 2007

The REAL ID Rules Are Out

After foisting their national ID card scheme on us, the Department of Homeland Security has finally got around to putting out their requirements for federal ID cards (.pdf). The price tag has climbed, too. What was once a paltry $11 billion has now climbed to $23 billion and there is no expectation on my part that it won't grow even larger.

Homeland Security officials released long-delayed guidelines that turn state-issued identification cards into de facto internal passports Thursday, estimating the changes will cost states and individuals $23 billion over 10 years.

The DHS has also offered an extension of their deadline till December 31, 2009 for states that apply.

There are a number of areas in these rules that should concern people. The decided lack of any provisions for privacy and the creation of multiple databases containing your information are worrisome, as are the rules concerning retention of documentation. Copies of your birth certificate and Social Security card must be retained by the issuing state for 7-10 years. If you were to move during that period there would be multiple copies of your documents in many different locations, making identity theft a real worry.

The interconnected databases, which will be open to multiple agencies from the 56 states and territories, will be required to be in potentially hackable electronic formats. They will also be required to be easily accessible to the average government employee, that means unsecured in real terms. On the upside there is no mention of RFID being the "machine readable technology" of choice, instead opting for "PDF417 2D bar code standard". Please note that this does NOT mean that RFID will not be included as one of the required "Physical security features" that DHS requires. It could still very much be in the mix as a security feature. Cards will be required to have the following information encoded on the card:
(a) Expiration date.
(b) Holder’s name. The machine readable portion of the card must have at least
125 characters to permit capture of the full name history, including full legal name and all
name changes.
(c) Issue date.
(d) Date of birth.
(e) Gender.
(f) Address.
(g) Unique identification number.
(h) Revision date, indicating the most recent change or modification to the visible
format of the driver’s license or identification card.
(i) Inventory control number of the physical document.
All of this info will be required to be on the face, as well. All cards will have to have a digital picture that meets very stringent quality requirements, indicating that it must be able to be read by facial recognition software, (such as Digimarc's).

With the increased price tag and rules we may well see more states joining the anti-REAL ID Act bandwagon, (unfortunately, the state of Indiana is unlikely to be one of those given the nature of this states relationship to the federales). Personally, I have no hope that this odious program will continue to be forced upon the people of this country, no matter what. Take a look at the .pdf and see what we are facing now that the Crypt Keeper has issued the rules for the new National ID Card. Make no mistake, either! This IS a national Federal ID Card, the new rules make that abundantly clear via provisions for non-REAL ID Act cards at the state level. They've dropped all pretenses of this being anything other than a federal ID.
Non-REAL ID driver’s licenses and identification cards.
(a) States that issue driver’s licenses and identification cards that do not satisfy
the standards of this Part after May 11, 2008, must ensure that such driver’s licenses and
identification cards--
(1) Clearly state, on their face in bold lettering, as well as in the machine readable
zone if the card contains one, that they may not be accepted by any Federal agency for
Federal identification or other official purpose; and
(2) Have a unique design or color indicator that clearly distinguishes them from driver’s
licenses and identification cards that meet the standards of this Part.
Now all we have to do is continue the fight.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

If The RIAA Hates It... must be good for us. This looks to be the case with a new bill moving through Congress called FAIR USE (.pdf), (The Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship) Act. This rather wordily titled bill would return some of the freedom to use your media as you wish, that the Digital Millennium Act took away. If the RIAA is correct that this bill would effectively do away with the restrictions of the DMCA then I see no problems with it.

The bill would allow exemptions to the anticircumvention restrictions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by Congress in 1998. The bill is revamped from similar bills introduced in the last two sessions of Congress, Boucher said.

"The fair use doctrine is threatened today as never before," Boucher said in a statement. "Historically, the nation's copyright laws have reflected a carefully calibrated balanced between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of the users of copyrighted material. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act dramatically tilted the copyright balance toward complete copyright protection at the expense of the public's right to fair use."

Unfortunately, as noted by some people, (and I tend to agree with them) the bill doesn't go quite far enough in stripping away some facets of the DMCA that make it illegal for you to even backup your property. I guess even a small step in the right direction is better than no steps at all.

The response from the RIAA, and their attitude was typical:
The bill would "allow electronics companies to induce others to break the law for their own profit," it said in a statement.

"The difference between hacking done for non-infringing purposes and hacking done to steal is impossible to determine and enforce," the RIAA said in its statement.
In RIAA's world we are all hacker criminals who just haven't been caught yet. What sad little people they are.

Removal of the DMCA from the picture could do nothing but good for the digital market, (as would the disappearance of RIAA). It would also lead to a better relationship between consumers and business, since consumers would no longer be treated as criminals by default. RIAA asserts that we are all criminals and FAIR USE might help remove that attitude from the equation, especially if it were rewritten to be a stronger and more "radical" bill that returned more rights to the end user. Here's to a swift journey through the system for Mr. Boucher's and Mr. Doolittle's bill.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sign This Please

If you are a firearms enthusiast and would like to do your part to protect the constantly eroding 2nd Amendment would you please take the time to go and sign this online petition? It is a petition in protest of HR 1022, a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban. Let's try and stop this one before it becomes the law of the land....again.

To reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the `Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007'.


(a) Reinstatement of Provisions Wholly Repealed- Paragraphs (30) and (31) of section 921(a), subsections (v) and (w) and Appendix A of section 922, and the last 2 sentences of section 923(i) of title 18, United States Code, as in effect just before the repeal made by section 110105(2) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, are hereby enacted into law.

Please take a moment and do what you can to help defeat this odious bill.

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The End Of The World (In Five Parts)

Well, I finally ran across something at Google Video that was worth watching and recommending. Somewhere in my surfing this morning I ran across a link to an End of the World movie that's been posted on Google and I must say that this BBC thriller is well done. I must admit to a perverse fascination with the TEOTWAWKI genre of fiction. While I generally dislike the Horror genre (it's rarely scary and mostly just gorily camp or just plain gory) a well done End of the World movie will not only creep me out, it will send cold chills down my spine and do for me what a so-called Horror movie should.

"Horizon - End Day" is a well done BBC docu-drama that doesn't bother to go into mind numbing detail as they explore 5 separate end of the world scenarios. The movie is well paced and not boring in the least. The scenarios run down the list; from Pandemic Flu, Asteroid Strike, Mega-Tsunami, a Yellowstone Super Volcano Eruption to the creation of a "strangelet" particle in a Super Collider that destroys the planet.

End Day runs like Ground Hog Day, as research scientist Dr. Howell lives through these separate events while replaying the same day (until he manages to flip the switch that destroys the world in the final scenario). The truly horrifying aspect of all these scenarios is that they are plausible and ripped from the news of the day. That adds the real chill for me! The almost 56 minute movie was visually well done and had only a few mistakes that I noticed, (a European car in NY, airport gangways marked Berlin that were supposed to be in NY, etc). You could do worse than to download this movie and watch it. Do download it, tho. The version which runs online is not as good as the downloaded Google version. The player for Mac and Windows is a free download, (I don't know if their is a Linux method of playing the movie. I hope there is, tho!).

If you're looking for a short, chilling film that's it is!

Download and enjoy!
(A tip of the hat to whomever I found the original link through. I can't remember!)

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