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I yam what I yam

I have been Identified. Had my biometrics collected. Whatever.

My office is in the process of getting our new government IDs, mandated by Bush's Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 ("HSPD-12"). To make government "more efficient" and of course "more secure" (ever the Bush mantra), this card is to be used for identification, building entry (except our little satellite location probably won't), computer access (except it seems unlikely that the technology for that will be worked out anytime soon), and who knows what else. I did make an attempt to look at some background on why all this was happening, but bogged down in ultra-governmetese like The GSA HSPD-12 Managed Service Office (MSO) is the executive agent responsible for providing Federal agencies with interoperable identity management and credentialing solutions that provide end-to-end services.... There's more of the same if you're interested.

The cards cost each agency $100+ for each employee, plus an annual fee that I can't remember. (Multiply that by the number of U.S. government employees, and compare to the cost of the little photo-on-plastic that worked before plus whatever building security card needed for one's local office, if any. Sure hope we needed to be that much safer and more efficient!) I foresee lots of extra expenses for damaged cards--the things have magnetic strips for contact card readers and an antenna/wireless transmitter/something-or-other for non-contact readers, all sensitive to heat or damage from warping, and the card is supposed to be kept in a hard case when not in use. And you can't store it next to any other card with a magnetic strip. I'm having a hard time deciding where I can put the thing, and I at least have a nice desk job. Think of the techs we have out wading streams!

Today was the "enrollment" step. I carpooled downtown to an ID center (in one of the main Atlanta Federal Buildings) with 4 people in my section, after our information had been transmitted (they call it "sponsoring you for the ID") to the GSA contractor. One by one we went into a little room (actually a mini dining room off the building cafeteria), handed over 2 forms of ID to be ID'd for the ID, verified our social security number, had a picture taken (don't smile--this is for facial recognition), had all fingers fingerprinted individually, then the 4 fingers on each hand together, then the two thumbs together, then the two forefingers separately again on a different scanner. No retinal scan--I'm almost disappointed.

In 3 to 8 weeks everyone will need to go back to actually be given the card, at which point each person will have to pick a PIN and do other arcane rituals to complete the process. Maybe by then I will have figured out where to keep this fragile card.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2008 04:55 am (UTC)
computer access (except it seems unlikely that the technology for that will be worked out anytime soon)

CAC enabled login for computers has been working for years in the military and isn't THAT hard. I dealt with it every day (dozens of times, as the help desk) at my last job.
Nov. 6th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
I guess the pessimism I've heard expressed must be more "will it trickle down to us" more than "will it actually become available", given the comments. We shall see!
Nov. 6th, 2008 07:49 am (UTC)
I do smartcards for a living (well I did, now I do it for crumbs) and have a little insight into them.

They're honestly pretty stout cards and don't break easily, I have run a couple through the wash and ridden for hours with one between my butt and my harley and it's worked fine. They're not too senstive to EM, the reason for the shield is mostly about presenting someone from cloning the RFID that's used for physical access (the wireless door reader).

The logical access stuff is pretty sweet, instead of having to hassle with a bunch of passwords for getting onto systems or secure web pages all you have to do is remember a short PIN (actually if they do fingerprint that substitutes for the PIN). Card access is pretty easy to integrate into standard windows infrastructure, if you use Vista/2008 it's built in and doesn't require any installations.

Oh, and the cards cost 8-12$ from the manufacturer.
Nov. 6th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
I would certainly welcome (working) logical access, though I will say that gradually more things are getting synched anyway. I did have a list of 10+ places where I had to change passwords as they expired. Now that's down to 5, I think.

As best I can tell we won't do fingerprints for access on anything for the first round, so it will be the PIN.
Nov. 6th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
I've had a card reader attached to my computer at work for about two years now. I've had my HSPD12 NASA ID for several months, and a Boeing ID card using essentially identical tech for almost as long as the card reader on my desk.

None of them work together. Yet. For two years, they've been pitching it as "Real Soon Now".

But...not supposed to keep it with other similar cards?? Nobody told ME that! (*looks at two badges in one hardcase hanging from lanyard on neck*)
Nov. 6th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
What about the HSPD12 card next to a credit card? Will it wipe the coding on the credit card strip?

All the info I have is from here:
"Do not allow the card near magnetic fields (e.g. stereo equipment, magnets, other magnetic stripe cards, etc.)"

They're worried about the HSPD12 card: I'm worried about my ATM and credit cards...
Nov. 7th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC)
smartcards produce no em radiation of their own (no battery and picofarad capacitors), they just have a radio reflective bit that "lights up" a particular way when painted by an external emitter.

The only thing sensitive to casual em fields are the mag strips, but if you use that and they go south you still gotta replace the rest of the card. If you don't use the magstrip you should probably avoid putting it in a microwave oven but short of that they're solid.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Nancy Barber

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