Value of photo IDs for building security

I regularly go into several federal buildings. Tho I get in with my gov’t ID, everyone else entering the bldgs for any reason must show a photo ID, as well as walk throught the metal detector and have their bags scanned.

I’m just curious; what is the security benefit derived from requiring someone to show a photo ID? You don’t need to state your business, you don’t sign in, your name is not recorded or anything. It isn’t all that tough to get a driver’s license. And if you are willing to submit your person and bags to a security screening, what additional value does the ID give?

It increases surveillance capabilities, which either improve our security or don’t, depending on whether you feel terrorists or homegrown bullies are the bigger threat.

Let’s face it, it’s a joke intended to calm the fears of the jittery, weak-minded sheep that populate most office buildings these days. Here, read this thread and have a good laugh.

Showing ID is worth almost nothing. As long as you can keep an even demeanor, your chances of being caught are nil. How does the L.A. cop doing the check-in at the Reagan building downtown know what a Missouri drivers license looks like? It’s just to make a show of doing something, and to see if anyone looks nervous.

I went to a tour of JPL, and they had me open my trunk to look inside it. Yeah, when I carry bombs into guarded facilities, I put them in the trunk, on top of everything in plain sight. What a freaking joke.

I also took a friend to an audition held at a theater on federal property. Much was made of this in repeated announcements, and all auditioning people were searched, along with their bags, but then they were put in an open tent right next to the hospitality tent for the friends and family. No one kept you from going into the participant tent: I just walked in there and sat next to him for a while, and no one said anything.

If you’re not going to try to enter the mind of the person who is really trying hard to beat you, then security will only deter the stupid and inexperienced.

In some cases, the sole “real” purpose of such simple checks is to keep out “undesirables”. I.e., street people and such. Some bum comes in off the street and wants to find a place to pee and sleep and the security guard can ask for ID and turn him away (even if he actually does have ID).

It is intended to let folks know that some people can be turned away and so if you are one of those people, you don’t have so much grounds for griping.

Most people wouldn’t know what real security measures should be. Hassle not = security.

Pure nuisance/deterrence value. I enter the same federal buildings you do on a regular basis, and even the security guards are annoyed by the whole thing. I ask them, and they even admit it. They tell me it just makes their job more of a pain in the ass. They don’t even glance at my name on the ID anymore.

As is noted above, the “harassment value” of having to show ID provides some value, but it’s not security against most real threats. Unless they’re checking the ID and your face against an access control list, it has very little value.

I’d recommend reading “Beyond Fear” by Bruce Schneier. This is a layman’s guide to security written by a bona fide security guru. It’s not so much about how to do security as it is about how to think about security. It spends a lot of time discussing the tradeoffs inherent in good security and how they have to balance the actual risks you’re trying to protect from, and it provides a good basis for evaluating useful security as opposed to pointless knee-jerk harassment. This book is probably preaching to the choir for people posting here, but it would make a useful gift for all the pointy-haired bosses out there who are implementing this kind of “security”.