Thursday, August 16, 2007

Show us your papers, please...

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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.

The act, signed in 2005 as part of an emergency military spending and tsunami relief bill, aims to weave driver's licenses and state ID cards into a sort of national identification system by May 2008. The law sets baseline criteria for how driver's licenses will be issued and what information they must contain.

The Department of Homeland Security insists Real ID is an essential weapon in the war on terror, but privacy and civil liberties watchdogs are calling the initiative an overly intrusive measure that smacks of Big Brother.

More than half the nation's state legislatures have passed symbolic legislation denouncing the plan, and some have penned bills expressly forbidding compliance.

Several states have begun making arrangements for the new requirements -- four have passed legislation applauding the measure -- but even they may have trouble meeting the act's deadline.

The cards would be mandatory for all "federal purposes," which include boarding an airplane or walking into a federal building, nuclear facility or national park, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the National Conference of State Legislatures last week. Citizens in states that don't comply with the new rules will have to use passports for federal purposes.


Privacy concerns raised

Colorado and New Hampshire lawmakers are not alone. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation say the IDs and supporting databases -- which Chertoff said would eventually be federally interconnected -- will infringe on privacy.

EFF says on its Web site that the information in the databases will lay the groundwork for "a wide range of surveillance activities" by government and businesses that "will be able to easily read your private information" because of the bar code required on each card.

The databases will provide a one-stop shop for identity thieves, adds the ACLU on its Web site, and the U.S. "surveillance society" and private sector will have access to the system "for the routine tracking, monitoring and regulation of individuals' movements and activities."

The civil liberties watchdog dubs the IDs "internal passports" and claims it wouldn't be long before office buildings, gas stations, toll booths, subways and buses begin accessing the system.

Update 8/17: Other posts I have done on Real ID.


Anonymous said...

Wow, not just rogue nations, but now rogue *states*.

Only a matter of time before one of them gets bombed and occupied...

ellroon said...

I'm thinking more and more California should cede from the Union...

Anonymous said...

Oh for god's sake, this is getting ridiculous. I remember reading that New York considered seceeding and declaring itself an open city during the Civil War. Maybe it's time to revisit that idea.

ellroon said...

Remember the map of Jesusland?

Anonymous said...

Or Redneckistan.

ellroon said...


Anonymous said...

Reporter: Mr. President, it seems there's a lot of contraversy over this Real ID program. Can you comment?

Bush: Well you know John, I'm told its a really important weapon in the war on terror. But I really don't think it will be a problem for law abiding Americans. I know Laura and I will be proud to have our new ID's.

Reporter: Of course, no one will ever ask for it, Mr. President - after all, you are the president.

Bush: That's not really the point John. The point is that, er that there is the good people and the bad people. The good people, us, we'll have the Real good ID's, I mean Real ID's, and the bad people will only have bad ones. Dick tells me it's really important.

Reporter: But alot of Americans are getting nervous, that this smacks of Big Brother from Orwell's 1984.

Bush: I haven't read that yet. Is it a good novel? I've been meaning to sped some time at the ranch lately.

Reporter: Of course, Mr. President. Other concerns are that the technology could be used in insidious ways, like finding out who does and does not clap at your speeches.

Bush: Well our IT guys do go a little overboard sometime. Do you think it's possible? Karl would just love that!!

Reporter: Our time's up - thanks very much Mr. President!

Bush: Thank you

ellroon said...

Anonymous, EXACTLY!