Monday, June 29, 2009

Napolitano Endorses PASS ID and EFF Files Lawsuit Against the Justice Department

I'm going to keep this short and sweet today. For a detailed analysis of the recently introduced “Providing for Additional Security in States’ Identification Act” (PASS ID), check out my post from Friday.

I'm afraid to say - as I stated on Friday - even as PASS ID represents a break from, and an improvement of REAL ID, it simply isn't an acceptable alternative to those that cherish privacy and are concerned with the ever expanding power of government in areas related to "national security". The fact is, PASS ID continues the one key component of REAL ID that privacy advocates were most opposed to: the creation of a national identification card.

Unfortunately, as reported in Federal Computer Week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano - a former opponent of REAL ID - has endorsed PASS ID. A point I've made numerous times on this blog over the past few months, is that as Governor of Arizona, Napolitano had a decidedly mixed record on privacy. In that context, her announced support for PASS ID comes as no major surprise.

FCW reports:

Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, had a mixed record on Real ID. In June 2008, she signed legislation passed by the Arizona State Legislature to prohibit the state from complying with Real ID. However, in August 2007, Napolitano was one of the first governors to reach an agreement with the Homeland Security Department to produce an enhanced driver’s license that would also serve as a substitute for a U.S. passport at the U.S.-Mexico border.

These licenses, which are now being produced in Washington State, New York and Vermont, are designed to comply with Real ID. The National Governors Association has praised Pass ID, saying it would reduce costs, offer greater flexibility to states, eliminate the need for costly new data systems and strengthen privacy protections. However, the American Civil Liberties Union said risks to privacy are still a major concern under Pass ID.

I'll be covering the progress of this legislation right here...

Electronic Frontier Foundation Files Suit Against Justice Dept.

Where would we be without organizations like the ACLU and EFF??? Seriously! In yet another laudable effort to take on, and expose the most entrenched corporate and government powers on behalf of individual privacy, EFF has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department demanding the public release of the surveillance guidelines that govern investigations of Americans by the FBI.

The National Journal's "Tech Daily Dose" reports:

The protocols took effect in December 2008 and detail the bureau's procedures and standards for implementing the attorney general's guidelines on approved surveillance strategies. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's complaint comes after DOJ failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for a complete copy of the document. FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni has acknowledged that "the expansion of techniques available [to the bureau] has raised privacy and civil liberties concerns."

Investigations can include the electronic collection of information from online sources and computer databases, as well as the use of grand jury subpoenas to obtain telephone and e-mail subscriber information, EFF said in a press release. Other recent policy changes allow the FBI to engage in free-ranging investigation of Internet sites, libraries, and religious institutions, the group said.

"Americans have the right to know the basic surveillance policies used by federal investigators and how their privacy is -- or is not -- being protected," EFF senior counsel David Sobel said. Read EFF's full complaint to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia here.

As with PASS ID, I will follow this case here, and provide more details in coming posts.

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