A US government scheme to introduce a federal ID card for US citizens, dubbed Real ID, has run into problems in Congress.
The Department of Homeland Security scheme plans to use states' driver's licence databases as the foundation of the federal identity scheme. Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff published a Final Rule on 11 January that set out how the scheme will work and set dates for compliance.
Commenting on the Final Rule, Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on homeland security, said in a letter to Chertoff, that it showed the Bush administration had failed to consider adequately the nation's security priorities.
He said there was a "gulf" between the estimated implementation cost ($10bn) and the money Congress provided ($50m). Citizens would have to pay 40% to 58% of the implementation cost, which was "simply unfair".
Thompson also questioned the reliability of the data. "A number of the federal databases that the states must use to authenticate source documents are incomplete, unreliable and in dire need of significant enhancements By failing to address the known inadequacies of these databases, the department has ensured operational chaos. Failing to rectify these deficiencies will compromise the program's mission from its onset."
He also questioned whether citizens' privacy would be protected. "After the myriad problems the department has faced in assuring privacy protections in other programmes, the failure to once again build these practices into the Final Rule itself indicates a disturbing pattern." Without these safeguards, the personal data of 245 million licence and cardholders were at risk, he said.More about the UK's national identity card scheme >>