voter id card law, heavier guns rolling out

As we come closer and closer to 2012, a year of presidential election state voter id laws get more heat. Latest development on the topis is Attorney General Eric Holder announcement to fight outbreak of efforts to suppress voters law by local legislatures. As of today 14 states passed some sort of legislation that requires government photo identification document to vote. Holder will closely examine new legislation in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.
No new arguments this time, same old business. Fraud prevention and election process integrity on one hand and risk of excluding elderly poor and minorities on the other. Many states made some effort to make it easier for everyone to be able to vote with means such free id card or even free ride to the DMV office. While these effort may help many they won’t help them all. States require certain sets of documents in order to issue state id card. Birth certificate seem to be a document that is hard to get for many older people. In these cases birth certificate can be obtained with lawyer’s office assistance but this makes free id card no longer the case.
I think that after long, full of meaningless arguments public debate some sort of agreement will be reached. For example people born before certain date can use Social Security Card as identification for voting. Since the issue is becoming more and more partisan the debate may take a bit.

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Romney’s national ID card idea

Mitt Romney, candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, announced his plan to deal with illegal immigration problem during last week debate. The idea is simple and not new, a biometric photo id card with electronic system support to quickly check employment authorization with Department of Homeland Security. Romney also points at employers who now can excuse themselves on lack of means to quickly check employment authorization and may unwilling-fully hire illegal immigrants. It makes sense right? Well, if we don’t look at 8-11 million illegal immigrants in the country already it’s a great solution. But there are 8-11 million undocumented aliens in the country; some research suggest that majority of them are here for over 10 years and have US born, therefore US citizens children. Regardless if it’s right or wrong tearing apart families doesn’t sell well in politics; media would be full of tear squeezing stories of children crying when their parents are being taken away in handcuffs by ICE. This is actually already happening, PBS Frontline has recently made a documentary on Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts and practices to remove illegal aliens from the country. Right now the annual target is set to 400 thousand deportations, criminal offenders first but in case the target can’t be met with just criminals clean criminal record illegal immigrants would have to fill the gap.
I find it funny when media and politicians talk about illegal immigration issue as it was unpredictable and unavoidable natural disaster, just like tornado or earthquake. Sub-prime mortgage meltdown was also commented this way, oh well, it just happened, nobody is at fault. Mortgage brokers made fortunes selling sub primes, tons of them sold to illegal aliens, immigration lawyers have their stake giving hope to often non-English speaking immigrants and plain crooks have their stake as well selling special way to green card through secret, unexplained connections which often resulted in arrest and deportation for those who spent all the money they could get to make things straight with USCIS.
I’ve been to over 50 countries in my life and know people from even more countries. US seems to be the only country in the world where you can come as a tourist or illegally cross the border and live normal live for decades without being bothered. For many years illegal aliens were able to work, get education, run a business, open a bank account, get phone service, utilities, buy real estate, even commercial buildings, get mortgage, buy and register a car with no questions asked. There is quite a bit hypocrisy about the US immigration policy, When economy used to bloom a blind eye was turned towards the wide flow of inexpensive illegal workforce as it was badly needed especially in construction and agriculture; since the recession started panic spread out on how the hell number of illegal skyrocketed to over 10 million people.
Maybe politicians should try to understand the root cause on in issue and base a solution on research and dialogue rather than announce media catching controversial ideas? Does than mean we shouldn’t apply the law? We should but with equal force all the time, regardless of economy. Law without enforcement is demoralizing, law with on and off enforcement periods is even more demoralizing.

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Wisconsin voter id card law in court

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued Governor Scott Walker and members of the state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, ethics and campaign finance to the US court in Milwaukee for making the election law to exclude certain groups from voting. The new state election law, signed by governor Walker on May 25th 2011 requires a voter to present a state issued photo id card or driver’s license in order to cast a ballot. ACLU filed the suit in behalf of 17 state residents would have been able to vote if the law hasn’t come into force. In this group we can find an 84 years old lady who doesn’t have a birth certificate and can’t afford a lawyer investigate for it; a homeless veteran living in a shelter whose veteran ID card is insufficient for voting under the new regulations and a 20 years old who hasn’t obtained a Social Security Card and therefore cannot apply for state issed photo identification.
These and other similar cases made ACLU sure that the US Constitution has been violated at least twice; plaintiff mention amendments 14 and 24 which effectively lifted voting restrictions from African American and Indians in the past.
Defendants of the law argue that over 15 states now require photo identification for voting and that new law increases voting process integrity.
Primary elections date is set to February 21 2012. ACLU expects the court to vertict on the case by that time

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Agrentine national ID card contract bribery charges

US Attorney General has set corruption charges against 8 former Siemens AG executives. The case goes back to late nineties when Siemiens won the contract for Argentina national id card (Documentos Nacionales de Identidad). $1 billion contract was won after $100 million in bribes have been transferred to numerous member of Argentina administration. Ironically the contract never went into force as government changed shortly after the deal was signed. Siemens tried to reinstate the contract into force after it was suspended and restore it after it has been cancelled but without success. Bribery was also reported in that activity. Siemens as a company pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the US and Germany, they paid $1.6 billion in settlements. At least 8 Argentina officials were involved in the case but no names have been revealed. Local, well connected businessman provided links between government officials and Siemiens executives. The money was laundered through multiple offshore based companies, fraudulent consulting agreements and invoices were produced to cover up the money flow. One of the execs crossed Germany Switzerland border with $10 million in cash before depositing it in a Swiss bank.
Argentina still doesn’t have national ID card and residents use a booklet type identification document.

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Sophisticated identity theft in California

Very popular self checkout stations have been recently compromised in Northern California Lucky store chain. According to the Police in Petaluma at least 57 people reported funds stolen from their bank accounts after using self checkout lanes VeriFone card readers. The average loss is estimated at $500 per victim. Lucky supermarket spokeswoman said there were 300 claims among Lucky customers who reported unauthorized charges on their account or attempt of unauthorized charge.
Although Secret Service declined to comment it is suspected that the data was captured using 802.11 or Bluetooth wireless technology. Both technologies are poorly protected against hacking and have been compromised number of times. Only few months ago Boston court sentenced Albert Gonzalez, 28 years old college drop out for 25 years in prison for stealing credit card information of large retailers customers. Gonzalez and his gang mates were sniffing data from retailer’s wireless networks; he was also Secret Service informant on credit card black market. It’s been estimated that over 170 credit and ATM cards have been compromised by Gonzalez gang making it the biggest fraud case in history.
Gonzalez case shows how poorly credit card data is protected when handled by merchants. It’s surprising that handling sensitive billing information is not regulated. With the current standards of wireless networking technology high level of encryption should be required at least and for networks used exclusively for billing wireless transmission should be prohibited.
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Spain national ID card program expands

Identive Group Inc reported it shipped 122 thousand smart card readers to Spain. These scanners, model number SCR3310v2.0 are used to read national smart cards, identification documents introduced by the government in 2009 to support electronic access to government commercial resources. Since the eID program launch the documents have been issued free of charge to the citizens which resulted in great demand from the population and little after 2 years over half of residents eligible for the card already have it. Spain among other European countries put significant effort into e-goverment. EID can be used to access many government and commercial services such banking. The country also conducted numerous pilot programs on e-voting where citizens casted ballots using electronic machines and smart ID cards. Moreover Internet based voting was tested during 2005 European Constitution referendum however the votes had no legal force.
Identive Group, Inc., formerly SCM Microsystems. Inc. is an international technology company focused on building the world’s signature group in secure identification-based technologies. The Company is comprised of a group of businesses with brands in their individual markets, which provide products and solutions in the areas of physical and logical access control, identity management and radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to governments, commercial and industrial enterprises, healthcare and consumers. The Company operated in two business segments: Identity Management Solutions and Services (ID Management) and Identification Products & Components (ID Products)

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PA ID cards and DL new security feature

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is introducing security enhancement to state issued photo ID cards and driver’s licenses. The new feature is a combination of ID card image and overlaying hologram. It’s designed more for bars and businesses than law enforcement that tools on hand to detect fraudulent identification documents. The innovation is in how the hologram shows its colors when exposed at different angles. The holograms we see the most show the imprinted image rainbow color range waving upon view angle change. Penn DOT hologram now changes colors in grayscale range which is a very rare behavior among holograms used to protect identification documents. Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to introduce the new security feature.
No security feature can be bullet proof for ever but Penn DOT bold move certainly adds another layer of security to PA ID cards and DLs making way harder to counterfeit.

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be careful with government ID badges you take abroad

Derrik Sweeney story makes you think twice what kind of identification documents you should take when leaving the US and what should certainly stay home. Derrik is a Goergetown University student who had an internship at Rep. Blain Luetkemeyer office in Washingon DC. He and 2 other students got arrested when observing protests at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt; it happened at night on November 22nd. Sweeney feels that the posession of Capitol Hill ID badge and map scared the local undercover security forces. According to the students they were beaten and thretened of shooting and gasoline feeding. The students were contacted by US consul within a day and released a few days later after a court verdict.
This is one scary story that fortunatelly ended well. I’m very happy for them to be safe but if I was their family I’d have a serious conversation about what happened. Going to a country with such heavy unrests like Egypt is now might sound like an adventure to 19 years old but any person with military or security experience would have different opinion on that matter. Blending in protesters crowd while being a foreigner and carrying a government related id badge is asking for trouble. This might be interpreted as a foreign government employee trying to influence political matters. Pretty bad case in general. Sure the student was most likely inocent but it needs to be pointed out that during riots most casualties come from innocent people and trigger gets pulled very quickly during revolutions.

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IL: forged ID card scheme busted

An ordinary highway traffic stop turned into a bust of a major identification theft scheme bust. Illinois state trooper stopped a rented Dodge Caravan on interstate highway I55 close to Springfield for improper lane use and missing front license plate. Upon checking the driver’s license the patrol officer found out that Michelle Ayala, 37, is on the wanted list for 2 felony charges of deceptive practices. During the search of the vehicle a significant number of fraudulent credit cards, debit cards and gift cards were found. Additionally blank state photo ID cards and driver’s license cards from multiple states were found. The 3 occupants of the car also carried over $12k in cash. All 3 have been arested at the scene for possesing altered credit cards, possesion of stolen goods and posession of equipment to forge credit cards. Suspects were put into Sangamon County Jail without bond and they refused cooperation with the investigators.
Holiday shopping time is the high season for credit and gift card fraud as well as identity theft. High number of transactions makes it easier for a fraudulent charges to be missed. Also stolen goods can be sold faster to often unaware customers looking for bargains. Shoppers should be alert following their credit card activity reports and also very cautious when buying merchandise on the street or parking lot.

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Uganda national ID card program delay

Uganda is one of the African countries lagging behind when it comes to resident identification. That was supposed to be changed by a national ID card printing contract that was won by German company Mühlbauer Technology Group in March 2010. Worth 34 milion Euro deal was for delivery of 21 milion photo ID cards by June 2012. It needs to be noted that conterversies were raised over contract bidding procedures back in 2010 suggesting that the president Museveni picked a company after reported lobbying by German embassy.
Yesterday first 400 ID cards were handed out to the citizens, this means heavy delays as 3.5 milion documents were should have been delivered by December. It’s unclear if it’s German printing company or the Internal Affair Ministry to blame. Mühlbauer Technology Group has not posted any comments. Some commentators suggest that the ministry might be late with payments and that the funds might have been depleted in the phase where biometric data has been collected from the applicants.

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