Issues like REAL ID and National ID Cards don't arise from a vacuum. Sometimes it's good to look around and understand the big picture.
This May, there is a show by CardTech/SecurTech at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Here's some insight about the upcoming event:
Bill Rutledge, CTST program director, projects a 15% increase in attendance over 2006 figures for the SourceMedia Conferences and Exhibitions event.
Why go? "There's a lot going on in security and on the payment side," said Mr. Rutledge. "For people in the payments industry, there's a lot to be aware of. On the security side, the big effort now is on protecting data and managing identity."
A lot of biometrics companies stand to make a lot of money by means of REAL ID and other schemes. (As a result, I'm sure there's a whole lot of lobbying going on.) Here's more on the show in SF:
There will also be half-day sessions, back-to-back, covering biometrics security and the Real ID Act. Sponsored by the International Biometric Group, the biometrics portion will include what the federal government is doing with biometrics, consumer acceptance of biometric technology, and an update on biometric testing and technology. The Real ID portion will cover what some of the states are currently doing to comply with the act, a panel discussion on "obstacles and opportunities" to Real ID Act implementation, and some of the "benefits and challenges" to the Real ID Act. A panel discussion will feature representatives from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, California's DMV, Department of Homeland Security and Digimarc.
Two other daylong sessions in the SecurTech track will cover Healthcare Card Technologies and Strategies and Data and Physical Security Convergence.
I admit to a cynicism concerning ideas to help consumers' "acceptance of biometric technology." It will have to involve a blend of emphasizimg benefits and bending lanuguage (double-speak) to sell the taking of one's most personal information. Once a person is "biometricked," I see no assurance that this will ever be undone.
Our culture has been moving for quite some time toward new methods of payment that are quick, convenient--and raise serious identity issues. These issues become quickly entangled with Constitutional rights when the government gets involved. Also, companies--in pursuit of the big dollar--can be blinded to the consequences of these types of actions.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a pro-freedom, pro-private sector conservative. I'm not against technology. But we always have to work hard to maintain our timeless principles against improper applications of technology.
I believe that REAL ID and National ID Cards are improper applications of technology. Many times freedom is undermined by convenience. (For example, I find myself concerned about criminal minds--not just stealing--but "polluting" one's identity: an identity which is centralized in an impersonal world of digits, microchips, and networks. You think its hard to clean up a credit report now! Individuals are about to be seriously "reduced" and made vulnerable to identity theft, identity alteration, identity "pollution," etc...)
Let's hope that freedom (the old definition thereof) can once again be our central organizing principle. If convenience and/or security takes freedom's place, then we will lose indeed. If security and convenience are "hand maidens" of freedom, we will do well. But we seem to have increasing difficulty in making sound distinctions.