Friday, August 17, 2007

Your Papers, Please

From CNN:
"Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year if they live in one of the states defying the federal Real ID Act."
This barely noticed change to the original "Patriot Act" will require that every citizen report to a DMV with proof of identity, birth certificate, proof of SSN, photo id, proof of residency, etc, and get an official "Real ID" which will be required for any "Federal purposes", including getting in an airplane, using public parks, opening a bank account etc. It was originally dropped as legislation, but passed when it was attached to a military funding bill in 2005. This version wasn't even debated, just back-doored into the process because no one wants to vote against funding for the troops. Niiice.

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to keep the records it has safe, and I have no faith whatsoever that they can keep this sort of centralized information database intact and safe. The almost unnoticeable mention that the card will "use common machine-readable technology" means that they can track information about the card, about the user, and about its use. And the law itself is vague enough that the dept of Homeland Security (gah, I hate that name) still hasn't really defined what sorts of things can be included -- prints, bio-data, RFID tracking? They have said they can include these things, but haven't decided...yet. And who else will be using this sort of information?

I find this Readl ID to be a serious breach of privacy. I already have all these identifications. I have a passport. I shouldn't have to prove that I have the right to interstate travel within the US, or to provide my identification papers in order to go about my daily business.

Quite a few states have already passed legislation that states they will not comply with the RealID legislation. Luckily, Colorado is one of them. Other states have embraced this big-brother national identity system whole heartedly. Maybe it's a good thing we've identified them now.

The whole idea is a mess. It creates a national identity card (which the citizens have strongly opposed), imposes huge fiscal and bureaucratic costs on states, ups the risk of identify theft (because of a centralized database), while doing absolutely nothing to "prevent terrorism"'s primary stated purpose. Apparently, terrorists will be too stupid to adopt the technology of the RealID, or fake the documents needed to get one of their own. .

Yeah. Right. There is an (admittedly strongly anti-id) FAQ here, if you want an overview

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