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Fw: Popular Science: What a National ID Card Might Look Like

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  • Violet Jones
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    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 16 6:01 PM
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      Please forward all infowars.com newsgroup messages far and wide and let all
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      > From Popular Science, available online at:
      > http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/article/0,12543,335428,00.html
      >
      > Your ID Please, Citizen
      >
      > What a national ID card might look like.
      >
      > September 11 was quickly followed by calls from some lawmakers and
      > business leaders for a more robust national identification system: ID
      > cards that possess sophisticated biometric data, making them harder to
      > forge than today's driver's licenses. Privacy advocates are strongly
      > opposed, arguing that such cards, while enabling the government to
      > track individuals and access personal data, would do little to separate
      > the innocent citizen from the walking security threat. For now, the
      > Bush administration is cool to the idea, but it's not hard to envision
      > the Department of Homeland Security re-examining the concept if further
      > terrorist attacks occur. More than 30 countries, from Italy to
      > Malaysia, have already introduced "smart" ID cards. If you're
      > eventually issued a national card, it will likely incorporate several
      > of the technologies shown here, combined to make the card readable by
      > both high- and low-tech devices.
      >
      > 1. Your USID number
      >
      > Most logically your Social Security number. Although the federal
      > government has rejected using the SS card as an ID card, the number is
      > already used by the IRS. If a card is introduced, it's a good guess the
      > Department of Homeland Security would manage it, possibly issuing
      > different classes of cards for citizens, green card holders, and
      > others.
      >
      > 2. Optical Memory Strip
      >
      > An optical memory data strip (like a small CD laminated onto the card)
      > locks in 4MB of read-only data, which can be read by an optical
      > scanner. The strip can contain a digitized image of a fingerprint and a
      > photo, along with essential personal data such as previous addresses,
      > mother's maiden name, and, optionally, medical data such as allergies.
      > Room remains for scanned documents, X rays, or digital signatures.
      > LaserCard of Mountain View, California, adds an embedded hologram.
      >
      > 3. Photograph
      >
      > Standard printing technology, which lays down ink on the card material,
      > easily succumbs to skilled forgers. One step up is laser engraving:
      > Machines permanently etch a photo into the card material, usually a
      > polymer such as polycarbonate. It's virtually impossible to erase or
      > alter a laser-engraved image without leaving telltale marks. But a
      > trained person is still needed to examine the card for sophisticated
      > tampering. Another step up: Integrate a radio frequency identification
      > (RFID) device, which would automate the authentication process. An RFID
      > chip and antenna would be placed beneath the photo. If the image is
      > altered, the chip and antenna are disturbed, and a portable reader will
      > register a problem.
      >
      > 4. Smart card technology
      >
      > With the addition of an integrated circuit microprocessor, the card can
      > perform data manipulation and run cryptographic algorithms. The
      > processor makes it possible to limit the amount of data any one
      > official can access. For example, an ER doctor could view medical
      > information and enter data about treatment (if the card's data storage
      > device is read-write capable), but could not see security-related data
      > (such as a traveler's flight history, or a non-citizen's visa status)
      > that an airport or INS official might require. But how secure are smart
      > cards? Detailed instructional hacking sites can be found on the Web,
      > many focusing on European cards. And the more data on a card, the more
      > valuable the card becomes to an identity thief.
      >
      > 5. Internal Memory Strip
      >
      > Currently manufactured only by UltraCard of Los Gatos, California, this
      > rewritable internal strip can store 20MB of data, roughly the capacity
      > of 14 floppy disks-essentially giving the card a (tiny) hard drive. The
      > capacity may soon grow by a factor of 10, according to the
      > manufacturer. A high-capacity device could store rich biometric data
      > such as several fingerprints, iris scans, face scans, heartbeat
      > characteristics, or DNA sequences. In a relatively simple application,
      > law enforcement officials access the card data using a portable reader
      > and match it to the biometrics of the person presenting the card. Or an
      > entry control system might be developed that automatically matches, for
      > example, the iris scan on the card with the cardholder's iris.
      >
      > 6. 2-D Bar Code
      >
      > This low-tech info coding could be used by officials who don't have
      > more sophisticated optical reading devices. A big step up from the
      > simple 20-byte-capacity bar code you see on cereal boxes, the 2-D bar
      > code stores information in vertical and horizontal lines-up to 2KB or
      > more of data, potentially including text, a photo, and a limited amount
      > of biometrics. These bar codes are already used on driver's licenses in
      > several states, generally to code the same information that's on the
      > face of the card. The technology is virtually tamperproof. The main
      > problem: relatively small capacity per inch of card real estate.
      > Datastrip Inc. of Exton, Pennsylvania, says it can cram 2.8KB of data
      > into a space the size of a conventional thin magnetic strip. The
      > company also sells a portable reader with an integrated fingerprint
      > identifier.
      >
      > WHOSE DATABASE, ANYWAY?
      >
      > The biggest challenge for a national ID system is ensuring the accuracy
      > of the information used to build a database of names, biometrics, and
      > the like. There are more than 200 million state driver's licenses in
      > the country, representing the largest collection of data of its kind.
      > The most pressing question: How accurate are these databases? How easy
      > is it to obtain a license fraudulently? As the American Association of
      > Motor Vehicle Administrators points out, al Qaeda terrorists used
      > licenses to build U.S. identities. In January the AAMVA proposed
      > beefing up the system by establishing uniform standards for licenses,
      > coordinating data between states, and improving security and
      > biometrics. A national ID initiative could be a springboard for this
      effort.
      >
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