DHS Secretary Chertoff on REAL ID's "COUNTLESS OTHER" USES.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Conservatives Give Up on Freedom and Limited Government

Many so-called "conservatives" have quit supporting the ideals of freedom, limited-government, and the rights of the individual.

For example, read what "The Conservative Voice" has to offer:
More than one Republican Presidential candidate appearing in Charleston, South Carolina in the much-publicized debate on Fox News Tuesday evening, May 15, mentioned the necessity for a fool-proof, tamper-proof identification card for use in solving America's desperate unlawful immigration problem.

There is such a card which could be made readily available with a basic administration system already in place. This same card could serve multiple purposes and solve major problems. Not only could it be used for a planned and valid immigrant documentation system but it could be used universally for identification by every legally registered voter at the precinct polling place, eliminating voter fraud. It also would repair and correct extensive fraud and counterfeiting of cards in the U.S. Social Security System.

The administrative structure and the vehicle itself already exist in one of America's most highly respected agencies, the U.S. Social Security Administration, in existence for over 70 years.

You can read more about ideas to grow government and bring the federal surveillance up-close-and-personal to Americans' daily lives. Inevitably, this National ID Social Security Card would become a standard for many more transactions.

Why do "conservatives" want to empower the federal government beyond all Constitutional recognition?

Why do "conservatives" show a willingness to abdicate freedom in the face of illegal immigration and terror?

Why do "conservatives" show a willingness to fight for freedom abroad while eroding it at home?

Would such "conservatives" have established a free country in the first place?

Maybe they're not conservative after all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More on the Real ID Debate: RFID (An older post)

I posted this elsewhere on 8/29/06

Here is an article essentially asking everyone to stay calm while the biometrics/RFID revolution reduces freedom to a string of digits and the goodwill of the government. Here is a short quote from the article:

While these technologies have been around for a long time, their use in the field of human identification is relatively new—at least, on the broad scale now underway. Starting in 2008, the U.K. Identity Cards Scheme will force everyone over the age of 16 applying for a passport to have their personal biometric details—including fingerprints, eye or facial scans—added to a national identity register. For this reason, we can consider them emerging technologies since their field of use, or scale of use, is still maturing.

Throughout history, emerging technologies have faced the same level of scrutiny, and often mistrust, until they became familiar, better understood and eventually accepted by the masses. This is the basic technology-adoption lifecycle. An example from the industrial age is the locomotive engine. At that time, it was thought that traveling in excess of 30 miles per hour on one of these new locomotives would subject the human body to so much pressure that an individual would not be able to breathe. A more extreme example of technology mistrust involves the Luddites of the early 1800s, who smashed textile machines in various U.K. counties fearing the machines would make their skills obsolete.

I can only say that this is not simply a matter of the old making way for the new. This is a matter of Freedom making way for Control. Really, the above statement is simply a subtle ad hominem attack: calling the slow-to-roll-over ignorant and selfish.

My tour guide through a recent visit to the U.S. Capitol was promoting the ease and benefit that Russians have with their ever-present ID badges. But one must remember recent Russian history to understand their willingness to be so easily monitored.

A people with a heritage of freedom ought to put up a bigger fuss. But I'm afraid that we Americans have lost the whole concept and spirit of Constitutional freedoms for the individual. I, however, am not part of a herd. I am an individual. Do not brand and tag me.

Do we want to live in a society where every retail transaction could become a complete background check--cross-referenced with every database in cyberspace? I can only imagine the "common sense" (read arbitrary) regulations the government can come up with and enforce with this kind of power.

I sometimes hear people say, "Well, what do I have to worry about? I've got nothing to hide." That statement betrays a profound ignorance. It is not a matter of "having nothing to hide." It is a matter of government "having no limits." This kind of surveillance power could make the 4th Amendment obsolete. Forget search warrants. "Searching" is now constant and in real-time.

When you see the word "privacy" in media and government publications, replace it with the word "freedom." It will put things in better perspective. "Privacy" nuts can be easily dismissed. What is really at stake is freedom.

The REAL ID Act is Wrong--Cheap or Expensive

The problem with the REAL ID Act that it creates a national identification card and grants the federal government an incredible new power to abuse. It doesn't matter if implementing it is cheap or expensive.

It's not about the money.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

CATO Institute: REAL ID Rebellion Comes to Illinois

Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, writes that REAL ID Rebellion Comes to Illinois:
REAL ID-compliant licenses will have a nationally uniform machine-readable technology, most likely a 2D bar code. Government officials would be able to scan us like cans of peaches at the grocery store. We do not want to follow the lead of places like the Soviet Union, apartheid South Africa, and more recently genocide-scarred Rwanda, where national IDs were put to very harmful uses.

In addition to the $17 billion implementation cost, REAL ID will overwhelm already strained DMVs across the country, especially in Illinois with its nearly 13 million people. That is a lot of paperwork. Lines and waiting times are long enough as it is.

Read more here.

I've often thought that people in Washington, DC breath the water and drink the air of "having to do something--whether it is good or not." They are too used to being in control and spending other peoples' money.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: I'm against the "open-border" mentality that our legislators and Presidents have exhibited in the past. But their failure to deal with the issue in recent years is no excuse to overturn the principles of freedom embedded in our heritage and in our Constitution.

What is sad and confusing is that so-called "conservatives" want to use the government's failure as an excuse to bloat its presence in the lives of the individuals. On this issue, many "conservatives" are inconsistent. They say they believe in "limited government." But they support a national id card that creates a platform for immense power and presence for the government.

How many arbitrary and crazy regulations will be more easily enforced through the means of a national id card? Do people really believe that the "minimum" uses will not accrue into various and many uses? How naive and foolish!

I honestly think some people hate illegal immigrants more than they love America-- the ideas that made America free and great.

Just because someone steals something from my house does not make me want to burn my house down. But several "conservatives" are having just such a knee-jerk reaction.

TERRORISM: Here is an interesting quote from Harper's article:
REAL ID proponents are incorrect in stating that a national ID would reduce terrorism; most terror attacks occur in countries that have national ID cards. REAL ID would not add to our country's protections. All that will change is that the terrorists would have to wait in long lines and fill out more paperwork — along with every law-abiding, native-born citizen.

This national id card (REAL ID) leaves the difficult decisions of border control against terrorism undone, but it does enhance the government's ability to track law-abiding citizens, citizens who need relief from a government that is just way too big.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

National ID: Biometrics Pinned to Social Security Cards

Ryan Singel National ID: Biometrics Pinned to Social Security Cards.
The Social Security card faces its first major upgrade in 70 years under two immigration-reform proposals slated for debate this week that would add biometric information to the card and finally complete its slow metamorphosis into a national ID.

Americans should react immediately against such crazy ideas.

Read more here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

In America Things Are Supposed to Be Different

In America, the government is supposed to be suspect--and constantly watched. The citizens are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

With a national id card, we capitulate to the thinking that citizens are suspect (until properly identified), and the government should have the power of watching.

In America, the government is supposed to be limited as much as possible. The individual is supposed to have as much freedom as possible.

With a national id card, the individual functions--not on his God-given, Constitution-recognized rights--but on the good graces of a government that allows access to society in a software-maze of “red-light/green-light.”

The technocrat rises.

The individual disappears into the digital collective.

A national id card brings the presence of the central government closer to the individual than its ever been. And freedom fades.

Under the current trend, we hear more and more of our obligations to an ever-present government.

We hear very little of the philosophy that made this country great.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Biometrics Still an Issue: Luddites vs. Lemmings

Digital50.com writes that International Biometrics Industry Association Submits Comments on REAL ID
IBIA supports the goals of REAL ID and the use of biometric technologies to ensure that it is implemented effectively. Biometric technology is the only technology that can bind an authentication or verification event to an actual person. As such, biometrics has an important role in meeting one of the key goals of the REAL ID Act to establish the identity and immigration status of an applicant before a card can be issued.

"Biometrics" include proven technologies that identify or verify individuals based on physiological or behavioral characteristics. Examples of biometric technology include products that recognize faces, hands, fingers, signatures, irises, veins, voices, and fingerprints.
I have to admit to a strong reaction when I see and hear about the rise of biometrics--and the emergence of many biometrics companies salivating at the prospects of a national id card.

Technology is not (usually) inherently good or bad. What we must always be careful about is the application of technology.

And "booking" every citizen through biometrics is the opposite of freedom.

Mr. Chertoff implies that people resisting a national id card are Luddites.

But maybe we are simply Americans who love our heritage and ideals of freedom. Since Mr. Chertoff employs the sublte use of ad hominem remarks, then freedom-loving people should be alllowed to imply that Mr. Chertoff wants to lead a nation of national-id-card-lemmings.

Before we take the biometric plunge as a nation of lemmings, can we please stop for a moment's reflection?

Let's ask ourselves the following questions:

  • 1. Why do we think we can digitally tether every citizen to an ever-present, immanent government and remain free?

  • 2. What does history have to teach us about societies that require identification at every turn? What were they like?

  • 3. Where does the information about our bodies go once it is taken from us and manipulated by others (bureaucrats)?

  • 4. What is the way back once we've see that we've gone the wrong way. (Somehow, I feel a door slamming shut behind us.)

  • 5. Does making society a software maze of red-light/green-light promote freedom of the individual or increase the hold of statism?

  • 6. Have we sacrificed so much in our history simply to turn Uncle Sam into Big Brother? The morphing has already begun. Where will it end?

  • 7. Why do we not look down the road further than a step or two?

  • 8. Why do many conservatives like the idea of increasing the presence and power of government in the lives of the individual?

  • The current REAL ID regulations do not require the use of biometrics--so far. But the pressure to include biometrics is immense. The pressure of lobbyists who stand to make a lot of money at the expense of the Bill of Rights is not going to go away.

    We have some decisions to make.

    It seems that we are unconsciously making all the wrong ones.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Federal ID card standards draw harsh criticism

    Bob Brewin of GovernmentExecutive.com writes that Federal ID card standards draw harsh criticism.
    Standards proposed by the Homeland Security Department for secure drivers licenses and identification cards issued by all 50 states are drawing fire from state officials.
    Some people say that REAL ID is not a national identification card because the federal government is not maintaining one database containing everyone's information. But this is a semantic smoke-screen:
    The Real ID Act also requires that states provide other states with access to their databases, which the California DMV said could result in an interconnected virtual database of the 242 million driver's licenses in the country that would be a prime target for hackers and criminals.
    With networking, there is no need to maintain ONE database. If all 50 state databases are linked, we--in fact-- have one database in the sense of access to the information. It doesn't matter just where the information lies.

    Let's think:

  • 1. The standards for REAL ID are set by THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.

  • 2. The drivers' licenses are will be used for many IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES.

  • 3. The driver's license is a small piece of plastic the size of a credit CARD


    This is not rocket science.

    Read more of Bob's article here.

    Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    The Wall Street Journal Weighs In

    The Wall Street Journal Online posted a good editorial yesterday entitled REAL ID Revolt.

    The article gives a brief history of the REAL ID Act and says,
    Two years later, a growing number of states are telling Congress what it can do with its de facto national ID card decree.

    There are a good number of states lined up in opposition to REAL ID, and we can only hope that the number grows. The editorial discusses Representative Sensenbrenner's involvement in this disastrous (and non-conservative) law:
    Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy has scheduled a hearing for today on Real ID, the kind of session that usually takes place before something becomes law. Perhaps Mr. Sensenbrenner should be invited to explain the national revolt against his handiwork.

    Please read the entire editorial here.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    It Never Stops at a "Minimum"

    Companies set to profit by a national identification card are not satisfied with the current 2D barcode standard in the REAL ID regulations:
    PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ, May 8, 2007–The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should not rely on static 2D barcode technology to store citizens’ personal information on REAL ID driver’s licenses or identification cards due to its inherent security drawbacks, according to the Smart Card Alliance’s comments in response to the DHS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on minimum standards for REAL ID cards.

    Instead, the Alliance strongly recommends that DHS raise the security level for state-issued driving credentials to equal that which has been mandated in other federal programs, namely by using smart card technology.

    If we do not fight the concept of a national identification system, the question will not be "Will this be intrusive to the freedom of the American individual?" The question will be "How intrusive will it be?"

    And the answer will be "Very."

    Once the door is opened, and 2D barcodes are found to be inadequate for "security," the government will have to start booking Americans through biometrics. The pressure to do so is here now--and it won't go away:

    Smart cards, on the other hand, support:

  • The encryption of sensitive data, both on the credential and during communications with an external reader

  • Digital signatures which can be used to ensure data integrity

  • Multiple digital signatures which are required if different authorities create data stored on the card

  • Advanced security technologies such as public key cryptography and biometrics

  • Many conservatives think the REAL ID Act is a "reasonable" measure.

    I would rather stand on principles--American principles.

    National Id Cards are against everything America is supposed to be.

    Thursday, May 3, 2007

    Coalition attacks Real ID Act regulations

    I hate siding with the ACLU, but here we are. I guess it's the stopped clock syndrome. They can't be wrong all the time. Although it seems like they are trying. But.... Back to REAL ID:
    Forty-three civil liberties and consumer organizations have started a national campaign against the Real ID Act regulations issued by the Homeland Security Department because they believe the new identification system will have serious negative impacts on privacy and civil rights.

    The campaign was announced Tuesday and seven additional groups joined today, bringing the total involved to 50. The purpose of the effort is “to stop the nation’s first national ID system,” the coalition said.

    The groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, say they are worried about increased threat of counterfeiting and identity theft due to lack of security to protect against unauthorized access to the information on the ID cards....

    “Under the act, states and federal government would share access to a vast national database that could include images of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers, court ordered separations, medical records and detailed information on the name, date of birth, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, address, telephone, e-mail address and Social Security number for more than 240 million (people), with no requirements or controls on how this database might be used,” the coalition said.

    Please, read more here.

    Also, be sure to read this post by Mark Rhoads at Illinois Review: Crossroads of the Conservative Community.
    There are people of good will on many sides of this debate who sincerely want to see the security of driver's licenses improved and other people who do not want see their privacy made more vulnerable to ID theft. Both opinions are valid and no law or set of regulations is going to please everyone so a brief time out is needed. Nothing has yet really happened. It has all been planning up until now. State motor agencies are doing their cost studies to find out what it will take to comply including of course the cost to hire new employees to verify birth certificates. They will have until the year 2013 to make sure that issues such as U.S. birth certificates, green cards, and other valid evidence must be used and verified before a state can issue a driver's license.

    I will try to follow his further postings on the subject and enter the debate somewhat.

    I'm curious as to why fellow conservatives are falling in love with big government.

    A strange blend indeed.

    I have yet to hear a good answer.

    Believe me, I'm listening.

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007

    DHS Sweats Out National ID Town Hall Meeting

    Ryan Singel posted an article entitled DHS Sweats Out National ID Town Hall Meeting for Wired.com.
    DAVIS, California -- Department of Homeland Security officials got an earful Tuesday during a webcast town-hall-style meeting on the controversial Real ID initiative -- a federal government plan to standardize state-issued ID cards and link identification databases nationwide.

    For its part, DHS made its case with little subtlety. "A fraudulent ID card in the hands of a terrorist is a weapon," said Barth, sitting under a projection of 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta's Florida driver's license. Barth signaled that DHS was still open to changing the rules based on comments, but he seemed exasperated with the criticism.
    "We are trying to make sure no state is the weakest link in letting people do things they shouldn't do, whether that is boarding an airplane, or any other activity we want to prevent," he said. "This is not a national ID card."

    (Read the rest of Ryan's article here.)

    This is how bureaucrats think: "It works like a national identification card because it will be used for identification purposes by the national government. It acts like one database because all the databases are linked. The standards are uniform across the nation. But, believe me, its not a national id card.

    A little honesty and a lot less double-speak would be refreshing.

    Watching the men behind the table reminded me of where our freedoms have gone. They've been buried under the paper and computers of an endless sea of bureaucrats. I can hear the population give a collective sigh...

    The problem with REAL ID is not cost. It is the undermining of our heritage, the loss of Constitutional thinking, and an unwillingness to make tough decisions where they really count--at the border and in the war on terror. It's just easier to use these problems as an excuse to bloat the power of government.

    Federalism is a thing of the past. State governments are pretty much the front office to the federal government.

    The presumption of innocence is becoming a thing of the past. We will soon be working on the presumption of suspicion (guilt)--until one is properly identified. Nothing American about this philosophy.

    Freedom shrinks in direct proportion to the increase in the power of the central government.

    Americans used to understand these things.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007

    Watching REAL ID? Go to DHS REAL ID Webcast

    Go here for the following:

    Welcome to the site of the National Town Hall on REAL ID sponsored jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the State of California.

    The webcast will occur on Tuesday, May 1st from 10 AM to 2 PM Pacific Time. You may submit comments via an email link that will be provided on this website approximately 90 minutes before the broadcast.

    The topics to be addressed include: consumer issues, verification, privacy/security, funding, and law enforcement.

    I'm not anticipating a discussion of American principles of freedom that preclude national identification schemes from a free society.

    I expect to hear, "This is what we're doing. Here is how it works. Those against it are stupid and/or don't care about the country. We're the government; trust us. Thanks for coming! Now go get your ID."