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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Shipyard Brewing and Real ID

I received a notification today that my VISA debit card — and those of many other customers at Chevy Chase Bank — may have been compromised. The bank, to its credit, has taken rapid and proactive measures.

And then I read this at CNET:

Shipyard Brewing Company's Maine ales, handcrafted in a former foundry on Portland's waterfront from malted barley, buckets of hop leaves, and Sebago Lake water, have risen to regional prominence. In 2007, the 14-year-old company shipped just more than 1 million cases.

Expanding sales of Shipyard Export Ale, Old Thumper Extra Special, and Bluefin Stout beyond New England has meant trips out of Portland's airport every other week for Fred Forsley, the company's co-founder and president. Forsley, 47, says his most frequent sales calls are to customers in Florida, New York, California, and Arizona.

But starting on May 11, Forsley may no longer be permitted to use his Maine driver's license to fly out of the Portland International Jetport. Under the federal Real ID Act, which the Bush administration has touted as an antiterrorist measure, federal screeners could be required to reject it as invalid identification.

"I have been assuming the issue would get addressed and streamlined," Forsley said. "But now I can see I have to really pay attention."

Forsley is hardly alone. In just more than three months, millions of law-abiding Americans might face new hassles when traveling on commercial flights if they hold driver's licenses or identification cards issued by Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and up to 15 other states plus the District of Columbia that have rejected the Real ID regulations on privacy and cost grounds or have not agreed to comply.

More from CNET.

Of course the beer angle caught my attention: two technology reporters who are 'into' good beer.

But living as I do in one of the states which has refused to go along with this boondoggle, I will suffer the consequences in May, such as a strip search at the airport — even when traveling within the United States — simply because my state's driver's license will then be considered inadequate and suspect.

I suppose I'll have to renew my passport.

The real problem with this de facto National ID card ("Where are your papers?") is not only the move toward increased surveillance (as much as that was increased — legally and illegally — during the last 7 years), and it's not only the estimated 14.6 billion dollar cost the Federal government is mandating upon the states.

No — the real problem will be the increased threat of identity theft. As bad as was the potential threat to my account, this Real ID will create a much more dangerous situation:
Real ID will also create new opportunities for ID thieves to commit their crime. The law requires DMVs to store scanned copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, and any other documents that individuals present when they apply for a license. It creates a national linked database allowing millions of employees at all levels of government around the nation to access personal data. And it mandates a nationally standardized “machine-readable zone” that will let bars, merchants and other private parties scan personal data off licenses with greater ease than ever before, putting all that information into even greater circulation.

Good luck to Shipyard!

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