June 15, 2007 | By Derek Slater

Harper on REAL ID and Federal "No Work" List

With Senators once again attempting to push through immigration reform, check out Jim Harper's excellent article about how the proposal's employment verification section implicates your privacy. Along with expanding the scope of REAL ID before it's even implemented and effectively forcing all Americans to present this standardized national ID in order to get a job, Title III of the immigration bill would establish an "electronic employment verification system" (EEVS) that relies on an extensive government database filled with personal information.

"The process gives the government access to a wealth of data about every American's working situation. It can easily be correlated with tax records at the IRS, education loan records in the Department of Education, health records at the Department of Health and Human Services, and so on. Title III specifically requires the IRS to share taxpayer data with DHS. Electronic employment eligibility verification will unravel the privacy of law-abiding American citizens.

"Disclosure to the government is not the only privacy-related concern with an electronic employment verification system. Data security is an issue as well. We have seen massive data breaches from government agencies in the recent past, and from private entities too. Watch for identity theft to rise if there is electronic employment eligibility verification."

For more on the problems raised by this EEVS, see technical expert Peter Neumann's recent Congressional testimony [PDF] on behalf of the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (USACM).


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