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April 20, 2011

Antón Testifies at Congressional Hearing on E-Verify Security

On April 14, 2011, Dr. Annie Antón, professor of computer science and director of ThePrivacyPlace.org at NC State University, testified before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means concerning the Social Security Administration’s role in verifying employment eligibility.  

Antón, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Public Policy Council of the Association for Computing Machinery (USACM), testified that the automated pilot system for verifying employment eligibility, known as E-Verify, faces high-stakes challenges to its ability to manage identity and authentication. She said the system, which is under review for its use as the single most important factor in determining whether a person can be gainfully employed in the U.S., does not adequately assure the accuracy of identifying and authenticating individuals and employers authorized to use it. Antón, an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee and vice-chair of USACM, also proposed polices that provide alternative approaches to managing identify security, accuracy and scalability.
 
Antón noted that E-Verify is being used by over 238,000 employers, yielding 16 million inquiries during the 2010 Fiscal Year. She cited a December 2009 evaluation conducted by Westat Corporation for the Department of Homeland Security that revealed inadequacies in the E-Verify system. The large-scale national test reported that 54 percent of illegal immigrants checked through E-Verify were incorrectly deemed eligible to work because they were using stolen or borrowed identities.
 
Antón added that complex systems like E-Verify are fallible and often misused or subject to mission creep. She cited authentication and access control risks that may increase the system’s exposure or compromise data integrity and leakage, resulting in cost and schedule overruns, system breakdowns, intrusions and obsolescence.
 
She urged members to eliminate the weaknesses of the E-Verify pilot system and objectively audit the system before it is scaled up or extended to verify individuals for anything other than employment. She identified technical solutions for validating pilot projects prior to adoption of permanent status, and offered objective technical recommendations even before the expansion of E-Verify is considered. In addition, she warned against resorting to biometric technologies as a solution to the authentication problem posted by E-Verify, as it would be premature.
 
For more information about Dr. Antón’s appearance and to read her complete testimony, click here.
 
For more information on Dr. Antón, click here.
 
~coates~

 

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