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Bruce Schneier on ID Security

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the number of ID checks in American life has climbed sharply. Some advocate more intrusive identification systems to fight terrorism and limit immigration, while others are skeptical of new procedures for verifying identity because of the impact they may have on costs, computer security, privacy, and civil liberties. The growing “ID Divide” presents significant policy question as technological advances outpace the government’s ability to protect its citizens.

Bruce Schneier, a leading security technologist, addresses these technical limitations. According to Schneier, the databases connected to identification cards are the source of the problem, not the cards themselves, as no ID can be more secure than the procedures used to operate the underlying database. Even individuals authorized to access these systems have queried the databases for unauthorized purposes, so we know that the threats to individual personal information are significant. Schneier also suggests that IDs cannot distinguish “evildoers” from other citizens; therefore, we must find ways to close security gaps and simultaneously protect individual privacy.

Video transcript.


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