Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wait! Does that mean the National Governors Association is going to kill us?

The medical identity theft report I cited earlier shows a startling connection between medical identity theft, REAL ID, and the National Governor's Association.

The report contains this charmingly clueless passage about what health care providers are doing to stop medical ID theft.
Some providers at Kaiser Permanente, a health network with 30 medical centers and 431 medical offices, now ask to see a driver’s license in addition to the program’s health card. The University of Connecticut Health Center, concerned after a case of medical identity theft occurred there, began checking patient driver’s licenses.

That would be a great idea if driver's licenses were actually a secure form of identification. But they aren't. They suffer from a variety of bad security practices that make it easy to get a real license issued in a false name. That's something that REAL ID was designed to fix. To take one example, it would have required states to actually perform an electronic validation of "breeder documents," like birth certificates, before the documents could be used to obtain a license.

But the National Governors Association doesn't want states to have to spend money improving driver's license security, and it bridles at the federal government setting standards for license security. NGA is leading the charge to repeal REAL ID and substitute a new driver's license law that would among other things eliminate any need for states to validate breeder documents. The NGA is likely to win that battle.

If they succeed, of course, it will remain easy for people to get driver's licenses in other people's names. And then to get medical treatment in other people's names. And in the process to change the blood types on record for the poor sucker whose identity they've stolen with that driver's license.

(The privacy advocates who neglected identity theft when HIPAA was passed are playing an even worse role here. The ACLU and others are campaigning to repeal REAL ID, and they've laid down covering fire for the NGA's attack. So in the name of protecting privacy, they're making the world safer for what could be deadly forms of privacy invasion.)

So if you're wondering whether your governor is trying to kill you, the fairest answer is "Not exactly." That's just a side effect of the effort to unravel REAL ID.

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