Key questions unanswered in crash of licensing system
Star-Adv March 26, 2018 (excerpts)
…Kokua Line readers had something to do with the city’s revelation — belated as it was — that the highly sensitive personal records of more than 100,000 Hawaii residents were corrupted in a computer failure in September.
At a news conference Thursday, the city and its vendor, Marquis ID Systems, flatly asserted that there was no security breach and portrayed the problem as an inconvenience, particularly for a subset of people who will have to resubmit documents the next time they apply for a Hawaii driver’s license or state ID. They glossed over questions about why the server failed — a server containing scanned copies of people’s birth certificates, Social Security cards, fingerprints and other information prized by identity thieves — and didn’t say how they knew no hack occurred. The city and its vendor must provide those details and more. Before we get to that, some background:
The REAL ID Act is a federal law that imposes strict requirements on states’ issuance of driver’s licenses and IDs if those credentials are to be accepted for certain federal purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft. The post-9/11 law aims to deter terrorists from getting fake IDs and has been controversial since before its 2005 passage.
Critics decry it as a privacy-invading national ID program that burdens states lacking the money and technical expertise to safeguard the sensitive data people must submit. Full enforcement has been delayed for years and is now set for October 2020.
Hawaii is among about 30 states already in compliance. However, unlike all but one of the others, Hawaii did not initially include a “gold star” on its compliant credential. That changed in January, and is when the Kokua Line readers come in.
Once the “gold star” ID became available, the city said that people who had already met all REAL ID requirements and wanted to exchange their current license or state ID for one with a gold star could do so without bringing in all their documents again or being fingerprinted or photographed anew. It was a streamlined process akin to getting a duplicate, and it worked that way for many people — but not for all.
Kokua Line heard from folks who waited in long lines at the driver’s licensing office, only to be told that their files couldn’t be retrieved, that they’d have to submit new fingerprints, take a new photograph, bring back their birth certificate. Individual experiences varied, but all these readers wanted to know what was going on.
We sent detailed questions to the city Feb. 8 and received a promise the same day that answers would be forthcoming. They never arrived. We followed up March 2, again by email, and received no response.
Then came Thursday’s news conference, at which the city and its vendor disclosed that a Hawaii-based Marquis ID Systems server containing multiple hard disks had crashed Sept. 15; that the Indiana-based backup system was so flawed that it did not save scanned files; that the city was informed of the failure at the time but didn’t comprehend its magnitude; and that the city’s Department of Customer Services, which oversees driver’s licensing and state IDs, found out from Marquis on Feb. 12 that tens of thousands of corrupted files could not be recovered. (DCS had sought that information because Kokua Line and others were asking, a city spokesman confirmed.)….
UPDATE Mar 28: Vendor declines to answer questions about data crash
UPDATE April 2: City Tries Again to Answer Same Questions
SA: Renewing your driver’s license? Be prepared
read … Key questions unanswered in crash of licensing system
Statement on driver licensing documents impacted by corrupted storage
News Release from City and County of Honolulu, March 22, 2018 (Even the date is a lie. This was actually released on March 27.)
Honolulu – On September 15, 2017, a server containing multiple disks managed by Marquis ID Systems (MIDS) for the State of Hawai‘i’s drivers’ licensing programs had a multiple hard disk crash. It was determined fairly quickly, and confirmed on further investigation, that there was no security or data breach. Encrypted storage media is still secured and in the possession of MIDS, but some data is not readable.
Approximately 66,500 applicants who applied for a driver’s license or a state identification card between February 25, 2017 and September 15, 2017, are affected.
Attached is a statement from MIDS that more fully explains the background and the current status of its efforts to restore the data, to replace the disk drives and to improve the back-up process.
On January 14, 2018, the State of Hawai‘i, Department of Transportation, announced the availability of the Gold Star program and invited persons with Hawai‘i Driver’s Licenses or State IDs to visit a driver’s licensing office to get a Gold Star, noting that identity documents were not required if they were already in the system.
On February 12, 2018, in response to an inquiry from the city and reports of identity documents (such as birth certificates and social security cards) that could not be retrieved from the MIDS system, MIDS informed the Department of Customer Services (CSD) that a portion of the documents that had been scanned, including records showing the identity of and fingerprints for the affected customers, were only partially recoverable.
Since that time, the city has been working closely with MIDS to understand and address the situation. MIDS will work with the state, the city and the other counties’ driver licensing offices, to reach out shortly to the affected individuals by letter, and to collect and securely store their unrecoverable documents.
“The city appreciates MIDS’ expression of regret for any confusion or inconvenience caused and its efforts to correct the situation,” said the city’s Director of Customer Services Sheri Kajiwara. “We are working very closely with MIDS so that duplicate driver licenses and state identification cards can be issued to the affected customer as easily as possible. Working with MIDS, we will look at ways to minimize the wait time and ease the process for our customers. This may include a dedicated window and offering additional hours of service. The other counties will also evaluate options to minimize wait times and to ease the process for their customers. We are pleased that MIDS has offered to assist the state and its counties in providing affected customers with a duplicate driver’s license for the purpose of obtaining the gold star marking, as a means of thanking our customers for their patience.”