Big Brother puts the smack-down on citizens

Upon recommendation from the Sept. 11th commission, the US Congress has seen fit to establish something of a National ID Card system.  While the card won’t be issued at a federal level, it will require all the information including the ID Number to be standardized across the board.

Congress Close to Establishing Rules for Driver’s Licenses
By MATTHEW L. WALD, New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 – Following a recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, the House and Senate are moving toward setting rules for the states that would standardize the documentation required to obtain a driver’s license, and the data the license would have to contain.

Critics say the plan would create a national identification card. But advocates say it would make it harder for terrorists to operate, as well as reduce the highway death toll by helping states identify applicants whose licenses had been revoked in other states.

The Senate version of the intelligence bill includes an amendment, passed by unanimous consent on Oct. 1, that would let the secretary of homeland security decide what documents a state would have to require before issuing a driver’s license, and would also specify the data that the license would have to include for it to meet federal standards. The secretary could require the license to include fingerprints or eye prints. The provision would allow the Homeland Security Department to require use of the license, or an equivalent card issued by motor vehicle bureaus to non-drivers for identification purposes, for access to planes, trains and other modes of transportation.

The bill does not give the department the authority to force the states to meet the federal standards, but it would create enormous pressure on them to do so. After a transition period, the department could decide to accept only licenses issued under the rules as identification at airports.

The House’s version of the intelligence bill, passed Friday, would require the states to keep all driver’s license information in a linked database, for quick access. It also calls for “an integrated network of screening points that includes the nation’s border security system, transportation system and critical infrastructure facilities that the secretary determines need to be protected against terrorist attack.”

  Full Story 
Ah, the joys of living in a fear based society.  As you can see, advocates are already touting fine examples of the law’s implementation outside the scope of the intended usage.

For some reason the first thing that came into my mind when I read this was my unpaid parking ticket in New Jersey.

35 thoughts on “Big Brother puts the smack-down on citizens

  1. Les, I consider myself to be more libertarian than the average standard around here (that would be Germany), and my reaction to this was:

    “The US STILL does not have a common ID system…?!?”

    Somehow this does not scare me much. Then again, I don’t have John ‘Let Freedom Ring’ Ashcroft as my attorney general.

  2. Just you wait until they elect “Lieber Kinder als Inder” Stoiber.

    Come to think of it, was it him who said that? And who’ll run against Schroeder anyway?

  3. The US, in practice, does have a decentralised national ID system:  the state ID/driver’s license.

    Case in point:  just try drinking without a state ID, military ID, or passport.

    Two of the above documents require federal-mandated standards of how to establish whether the applicant is real, or not.  The only one that doesn’t have a national standard is the MOST used id card of them all:  driver/state ID’s.

    The system is well in place, it just lacks quality standards.

    —Why do we need ID’s whose legitimacy is verifiable ?

    [] financial transactions:  laundering happens
    [] mass-transit travel:  why endanger large groups of passengers ?
    [] gun/equipment/crop-sprayers/trucking/etc operation:  why endanger citizens and infrastructure ?

    We don’t live in a fear-based society.  We live in a disney-world-esque consumer-ville where some people are starting to calculate the liabilities of just such a culture.

    Again, when whole cities in the homeland have been lost this type of conversation against such ID-conditions will appear very, very silly.

    rob@egoz.org

  4. as well as reduce the highway death toll by helping states identify applicants whose licenses had been revoked in other states

    What?  I didn’t realize we’d reduce death tolls on our nations highways by refusing licenses to people who had theirs revoked due to parking tickets or minor infractions.  Damn, I didn’t realize parking that everytime I parked in a handicapped spot, I killed someone! 

    Or everytime I got a couple of speeding tickets for going 10 miles over the speed limit, that killed someone.  Silly me!  I’m much more dangerous than drunks who have only had a slap on the wrist, or people who go 90 in a 30 zone.

  5. We don’t live in a fear-based society.

    Again, when whole cities in the homeland have been lost this type of conversation against such ID-conditions will appear very, very silly.

    Rob, care to reconcile the two quotes above?

    I recall that you are sympathetic to a surveyance state?

  6. Who was it that said: those that would trade their rights for security deserve neither?

    Do you really think having a national ID card system is going to make you safer?  This is one more brick in the path to paranoia.

    Statistically: Whatever town you live in is more likely to devastated by a natural disaster or human error than it is to be effected by a terrorist attack.

    We already have an overzealous FBI misusing the anti-Patriot Act by going after gaming associations and prostitution so why would I think this wouldn’t be abused in the same manner?

    The reason we are such a great nation is because of our freedoms and if we continue to sacrifice those we will be merely defending our capitalism from terrorism.

  7. Deadscot, I disagree with your, I think, too-dogmatic stand on the issue. Security and rights are not an either/or matter. Increasing the one does not HAVE to mean decreasing the other. Though I will agree with you that this is what seems to be on the Bush administrations mind all the time.

    Elweddridsche, Stoiber is never going to become our chancellor. Though I am very saddened by the anti-Turkey rhetoric the CDU/CSU is spewing out right now.

    But what does he have to do with ID cards? I do feel that I agree with rob adams in that a good ID system would help prevent the exposure of mass transit/travel and so on.

    Do you really feel that a broken (read: easily fooled) ID system is sensible? In that case, why not dispense with it all together and not check backgrounds of people who are going to fly at all (maybe you do agree with that notion?). Only check their luggage and thats it.

    No, I really like Heinlein. But even pre 9/11 I thought that his statement ‘If a place gets crowded enough to require ID cards, leave!’ was a bit whacko.

  8. PS: What would you prefer:

    A national ID system, out in the open, or a secret one at the NSA (which still is going to be used by the security personnel ahead of your flight – they just won’t admit it to you/allow you access to your info)?

  9. You’d probably be better off with national IDs and some sensible legistlation on how and when they can be used.  Any electronic money transactions, say credit cards, already needs your identity(and location of point-of-sales and probably what you bought too).  And a cellphone network always needs your approximate location to route calls.  There is already enormous amounts of data collected about everyone, and many modern systems just can’t function without it, so it would be better to bring it into open and regulate it(retention times, etc).

  10. ingolfson:

    Though I am very saddened by the anti-Turkey rhetoric the CDU/CSU is spewing out right now.

    Considering that the C stands for Christian…

  11. A certain group of Americans don’t want National I.D. out of a cultural, “central authority paranoia” dating back to the Revolution (IMO).  The fact that the proposal is being put forward by the same administration that has the Patriot act distreses these people even more.  Canada has no Federal I.D. either and I don’t think it’s likely.  We have a law called “The Privacy Act” which created the “Privacy commisioner” who reports to parliament.  This position reviews federal laws and transactions in relation to the privacy of our citicens.  Currently they are looking into the impact of “The Patriot Act” on Canadian companies and citicens due to the American penchant for applying U.S. law to foreign citicens et al.

    Elwedriddsche thank for the FYI link, some good reading.  It’s so easy to forget Hitler and co. were voted in.  given the philosophy of so many right wing extremists in the U.S. I wouldn’t put “Fake” terrorism past them to get what they want.

  12. It’s so easy to forget Hitler and co. were voted in.

    Actually, he got voted in by outlawing or banning the left-wing opposition parties (and locking up quite a few members) and by applying gentle voting guidance in the form of armed(?) thugs in parliament that made sure that the crucial vote was cast properly. The US isn’t quite there yet.

  13. (Hey, anyone know why some people have MemberProfile icons, yet others do not? How is this icon activated or de-activated?)

    Sveral people made some great points:

    [] Security and rights are not an either/or matter
    [] A national ID system, out in the open, or a secret one
    [] National IDs and some sensible legistlation

    Backwoods, water-purifer-hording, livin’ off the grid Libertarians often forget that we are a culture where ID’s are a required item.  We’re already there.  We got the system—but no legislation or office (akin to Canada) regulate it.

    It’s better to have a publicly regulated ID system than a backdoor-national-ID, which is what we got.

    [ Fear, fear, whose got The Fear ]
    In our world “Fear Cultures” do exist.  This ain’t one of them.  You don’t see people moving away from cities en masse [for fear of city-scaled terrorist attacks].  You don’t see fear [of terrorism] dictating how our daily lives are ordered.  Indeed, America seems to be a FunFun Culture than a FearCulture.

    Long before 9/11_v1 would it have been wise for America to take an honest calculation of our risks.  We need to examine where our greatest liabilities rest.

    [ Fake Terrorism ? ]
    Albeit rarely admitted, there exists slinking beneath each Libertarians aneurysm-inducing polemics against National ID’s and all things Homeland Security related a hidden, pathological belief that the stated risk of other, greater 9/11’s is a fake, a fraud, a dragon-like-windmill.  The threat of other, worse 9/11’s is actually quite real.  Our culture needs a little less Fun!Fun!MoreFunDammit! and a big squeeze of fear.

    [ Put Down That PlayStation ]
    It’s wiser, not easier, and certainly not fun, to have a national ID system that is regulated by elected officials.  It’s better to have a culture in which it is harder to assume false identities so as to operate against our most basic, fundamental interests (and civil rights).  A sophisticated, reality-based, risk-aware culture understands that there is no 0/1 switch between Homeland Security and Liberty, but that they can (and should) co-exist.

    [ STOIBER ???? Angela Ate Him.]
    Watch the rising star (read: power) of Angela Merkel.  I think she’ll be your next chancellor via an inner-party coup of sorts, which is already partly manifest.

    rob@egoz.org

  14. (Hey, anyone know why some people have MemberProfile icons, yet others do not? How is this icon activated or de-activated?)

    The folks with member icons are registered members. In other words, they clicked on that link near the top of the navbar on the left that says REGISTER and then after registering they clicked on the link that says LOGIN and logged into their new account here at SEB.

    We don’t require registration to post, but there are a few side benefits to registering:

    1. You get that nifty and highly desired Member Profile icon next to your name.
    2. Comment form is reduced to just the text area for typing in the comment as all the other information is already known.
    3. No longer need to enter captchas.
    4. Gain access to the “Submit an Entry” function allowing you to submit an article for consideration.
    5. Can see how many comments you’ve left and put in additional info about yourself if you’re the outgoing type.
    6. Get to brag to others about how you have a membership at SEB.
    7. Increased sex appeal and whiter teeth.

    Beyond that, there’s not a lot of advantages to registering. Nothing like granting you political favors or cash bonuses or anything like that.

  15. First of all, there is already a de-facto national ID system – social security numbers.

    Rob, you keep dangling the scepter of a worse-than-9/11 scenario to justify unpopular measures. While there is no doubt in my mind that there will be another major terrorist attack sooner or later, you present what I’d call the argument from fear. Many if not all European nations have national IDs. Did it stop seperatist terror? It certainly didn’t contribute to taking down the Bader-Meinhof group.

    I have a picture of a pre-Golf War carnival float, depicting Angela Merkel stuck in Uncle Sam’s naked ass.

  16. Ok, i am (and was) registered.  I’m even logged in.  But, no icon.

    Not that i *need* an icon (i don’t, it’s like having a national id, imo).  But, i’d like to have one, just to be like everyone else.

    rob@egoz.org

  17. (ah, sorry for the second post— But, how did i manage to still get my daisy-icon in a post, but then still not get a member’s icon?  There seem to be two different log-in levels/procedures?  or systems???)

  18. Don’t feel bad .rob, I don’t have a member’s icon either. Stranger yet, when I log in, the first page it takes me to is elwedriddsche’s member page. I like you and all elwed, but I don’t need to see your member page every time I log in – you’re always in my thoughts dude.

    As for the National Identity Card issue, I can’t help but think it’s a bad idea. I miss the illusion of privacy already and we see examples time and again of how private information is misused. Information that has nothing to do with Homeland Security will eventually be gathered and will affect every facet of our lives, but certain privileged individuals will have a lock on their information. If the government wants to know everything about me, I want to know everything about it’s members as well.

  19. Stranger yet, when I log in, the first page it takes me to is elwedriddsche’s member page.

    What the hell? Le-e-es?

    Brock, if clearing your browser’s cache and the SEB cookies doesn’t fix this, I don’t know what will.

  20. Rob, don’t know if you noticed, but you have a member icon next to both of the last two replies you left.

    In anticipation of your next question I’ll now explain why it is the previous responses you left don’t have a member icon:

    Under ExpressionEngine any comments left by an unregistered author are assigned a user ID of 0 whereas any comments left by a registered user make use of that member’s user ID.

    If you have an account, but don’t login to it before commenting then your response is treated the same as any other unregistered visitor’s comment would be and assigned to user ID 0. Simply having an account or logging into it doesn’t impact any of your previous comments that are assigned to user ID 0 hence no member icon next to them. I do have a small SQL query I can run that will go through and reassign comments from user ID 0 to a member’s ID based on the email address that I’ll run to update your old comments.

    As for why you have a Gravatar in both situations it’s because that’s a plugin that I wrote and not a part of the core EE package. It uses your email address as the basis for finding your Gravatar so as long as you use the same email address in both situations it should show up regardless. If you were to change the email address you use for Gravatar and then updated your email settings in your account here then you’d suddenly only see your Gravatar on comments you made while logged in.

    Brock, your member icon is right there next to your name. Not sure why you see Elwed’s page when you login. Send me a screenshot next time it happens.

  21. Well, let me just say, having a Gravatar-ID and a SEB-ID is a bad idea.  There needs to be just one ID used by all.

    There needs to be a centralised, standardised national (or, better, GLOBAL) blogging ID for all those wishing to post, author, or conduct any other transactions in blogworld.

    See?  National ID’s ARE useful—and good.

    wink

    rob@egoz.org (NID: 102193.001-AlphaGrade)

    P.S.  Think of the demographic studies and graphs and charts we could create if we all used NID’s when conducting purchases, renting videos, using the subway, paying road tolls, entering a mall, etc.  And, imagine if that anonymous-rendered database were open to all citizens!

  22. P.S.  Think of the demographic studies and graphs and charts we could create if we all used NID’s when conducting purchases, renting videos, using the subway, paying road tolls, entering a mall, etc.  And, imagine if that anonymous-rendered database were open to all citizens!

    A this would be a good thing?  In a different time I might not object so much to this idea but with the pervasiveness of the Homeland Security Agency and this administrations in-ability to manage project scope, it has my back up.

    Declaring a war on a concept and trading liberties for security is not an effective means of keeping America safe and intact.  Privacy rights and security may not be mutually exclusive but the potential for harm to the union done by the latter is far greater.

  23. Well, let me just say, having a Gravatar-ID and a SEB-ID is a bad idea.  There needs to be just one ID used by all.

    There needs to be a centralised, standardised national (or, better, GLOBAL) blogging ID for all those wishing to post, author, or conduct any other transactions in blogworld.

    First off, you don’t have a Gravatar ID. Gravatar doesn’t generate or assign IDs itself, it merely cross-references your email address to what you have on file with Gravatar and provides an icon if it matches.

    Secondly, you don’t have to have an SEB-ID. If the fact that it’s not a global blog ID bothers you then I can always delete the account if you prefer without losing any ability to post comments.

    Thirdly, do you really want SEB to have access to the same user authentication system used by your bank or credit union? While I pride myself on my honesty I’m sure there are plenty of less scrupulous bloggers out there who would find a way to take advantage of such a situation.

    Fourthly, you fail to say why having separate IDs is a bad thing. What if I don’t trust the national global authentication system as being able to accurately identify that you are whom you claim to be?

    See?  National ID’s ARE useful—and good.

    Actually, no, I don’t see. Nothing in your comment demonstrates why a national ID, for blogging or otherwise, would be either useful or good outside of the convenience factor. Which could end up being highly inconvenient if your ID was stolen.

    P.S.  Think of the demographic studies and graphs and charts we could create if we all used NID’s when conducting purchases, renting videos, using the subway, paying road tolls, entering a mall, etc.  And, imagine if that anonymous-rendered database were open to all citizens!

    You’ve now convinced me that this would be the absolute worst thing imaginable. Good job.

  24. Dang. Les beat me to it I-/

    rob, I sometimes feel that you have a bit of troll blood. But you write reasonably well, so I will answer it.

    P.S.  Think of the demographic studies and graphs and charts we could create if we all used NID’s when conducting purchases, renting videos, using the subway, paying road tolls, entering a mall, etc.  And, imagine if that anonymous-rendered database were open to all citizens!

    Gaaah!

    I mean I *supported* your opinion partly. But when I think of an ID system, I think it should contain:

    name, age, date of birth, pyhsical identification (biometrics, whatever is needed to make it hard to fake) and my permanent adress. Maybe previous felonies should be contained too , but I agree that this last one is a tricky issue.

    It should not contain:

    shopping patterns, my sexual orientation, where I spend my time or my religion (no need for the traffic cop to know I’m a hell-bound atheist!).

    Few if any of these informations are security-relevant, or necessary to protect against identity theft. If companies want to get a profile of their shoppers, they need to convince ME to give them the info.

  25. [ STOIBER ???? Angela Ate Him.]
    Watch the rising star (read: power) of Angela Merkel.  I think she’ll be your next chancellor via an inner-party coup of sorts, which is already partly manifest.

    Sheesh. Her party is just now occupied with tearing into each other, and their poll numbers are slipping, even though no one likes the government parties much.

    No, she won’t become chancellor. No charm, just a mean little attack dog. The day she becomes my ‘chancelorette’, I will start being *active* in politics and join the Green party, I swear!

    No joke. I will. That would at least be an excuse to finally do it

  26. In an entry? I use the File Upload link in the editor on the Publish page. Now that I think about it I don’t think I set up the “member” group to have access to that. I’ll fix that ASAP.

  27. [ .rob adams is all about personal liberty ]
    I’m a #1 Fan of government regulations that protect our Bill-o-Rights.

    I believe that your individual commercial transactions, movements, and interests (among many other things) is no business of the government, and especially of no business entity.  Trust me on that.

    [ we’re already being watched, and recorded ]
    But, recognise, BELIEVE, that these things are already being registered in a database, some of them aggregated with other, completely unrelated commercial and state databases—by both states, USG, and private/commericial entities.  It’s happening already—and in a completely unregulated, anything-goes manner.  With the exception of your health records, there exists little to no legilastive controls, anc certainly no group/power that enforces the few laws that do exist, beyond lawyers.  Someone, the government, needs to protect your interests and your privacy.

    However, i do believe that these items can be open to anonymous-ized scrutiny when an individual’s behavior matches a *legislated* matrix.  For example, take the TSA WatchList.  The type of individuals flagged for “watching” or, worse, exclusion, would be determined by legislated patterns.  Making this system available to public oversight would eliminate:

    [] “I wonder why I’m on the WatchList”
    [] “I don’t know who to appeal to regarding my designation”

    [ a public resource, and it’s free! ]
    In the same way the GreatDatabase of All Transactions would be available too all, for free, to examine and study as they wish, but only in an anonymous fashion; You could understand a transactor’s demographics, but nothing identifiable (e.g., SSN/NID/GID/CC#/DOB/Height/*Ethnicity*).  Only law-enforcement, with a judicially issued warrant, could select Mustaffa Ahmed’s transactions, no doubt limited to a certain time period and type of transaction (purchase, movement, communication, etc).

    [ The Ministry of Privacy ]
    Akin to Canada (i’m never one not to steal a good idea), we’ll establish a new, executive-branch controlled agency:  The Ministry of Transactions, or something like that.

    [ let the government protect your privacy ]
    Make no mistake:  these databases are already being maintained.  It’s just high time we regulate them (read: nationalise them) and subject them to public oversight and government regulation.

    rob@egoz.org

  28. .rob adams pokes fun at “The Ministry of Privacy”, but is a watchdog who answers to Congress or the Senate when government agencies overstep their bounds and invade citicens privacy such a bad thing?  Oh I forgot, Patriot Act moot point.

  29. I guess I should post a few points on this issue of privacy since I did once wrote a short 45 page paper on it. Nothing much to say here, since I am not exactly a string privacy advocate although I do understand all the positions for it.

    1) Reasonable expectation of privacy
    The idea of privacy is that it is a relative concept that changes with society. The problem then is when one introduce a measure that may be considered as an infringement of privacy, that may operate as a means to lower society’s expectation of privacy. And once lowered, that lowered expectation would be used in cases of privacy to justify invasion. For example, a person may feel their privacy is invaded by a tad bit when they are searched more extensively at the airports. However overtime if the extensive search carries on, when one is searched, the common refrain would be “what do you expect?”

    Therefore a National ID system would reduce one’s privacy. How much and how significant is it, would be debatable. But remember that the question to ask is not so much

    2) National ID
    This can be considered as an invasion of privacy by the government. However, it should be noted that in countries that do have the ID system, people do not complain about it. In fact they find it to be extremely useful. Whether such an ID system should be used for criminal investigations is another matter.

    However, one should not be oblivious to the fact that there is a great deal of tracking. For example FICO credit, reward programs for shopping (products purchase + location), toll cards (movement tracking)

    3) Linkage
    Having separate pieces of information lying around is one thing. Providing a system to link these information together can result in greater lost of privacy. So the mere fact that all information is already publicly available does not mean that a system that links these information together would not further harm’s one privacy interest.

    4) Sojourn to Canada
    The Canadian Privacy Commissioner use to be a real go-getter challenging the government on all fronts. For example questioning the government for installation of a surveillance camera. But alas after George Radwanski’s one too many expensive lunches and trips he has been removed and many of the contentious issues he had against the government had been dropped by his successor.

    Canada’s Privacy Act and Access to Information Act (have to read them together) are quite impressive. But enforcement is another matter. The US while weaker on its codes have a more robust enforcement regime. Furthermore, recent Canadian privacy legislation (PIPEDA has) received great criticism and studies have shown that despite having weaker laws the US has sent out millions in fines. And as a side note, sometimes to get information about Canada, it is easier (and cheaper) to file a Freedom of Information request to the US government to obtain their information on Canada.

    5) Finally
    Is it possible to ever have a discussion on privacy without someone repeating 1984, Big Brother. If instead of a little plastic National ID card one has an RFID chip inserted into human body, would literal bible readers scream and impale themselves least they get marked with the sign of the devil. That almost makes me wish that one adopts the RFID chip implant.

  30. Just in time…
    The FDA has finally approved the use of implanted RFID’s for medical history:
    http://nytimes.com/aponline/technology/AP-FDA-Implantable-Chip.html?hp&ex=1097726400&en=b2b8e86a6474cb83&ei=5094&partner=homepage

    You cannot stop innovation, but we can control it’s use. In Islam there is an increasingly popular concept:  Bid’ah (beed-ah) “evil innovation”

    This tenet of Islam is especially popular with the Jihadists/alQaeda types.  Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the infamous Jordanian so fond of sawing off heads, is a huge proponent of avoiding all things Bid’ah.  In fact, he believes (like most of his ilk) that civilisation should revert back to a 14th Century technological level so as to remain holy in the eyes of G-d.

    Don’t get caught up in some luddite version of hipster-technoratis.  Instead, encourage the proliferation of technology, especially if it serves to increase connectivity between individuals and their community.

    So, i say:  “Down with Bid’ah!!!!”
    Embrace technology, promote technology, and never forget to apply reason.  All else is futile.

    rob@egoz.org

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