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ID's and Databases

Friday, July 14, 2006

Henry Porter gives us a glimpse into our own future here in the United States with respect to national identification cards and their associated databases. He has an article at The Guardian titled "Beware of Card Tricks" that shines a bright light on the problems associated with National ID's generally and the growing police state specifically. As a teaser, here's an excerpt from the article:
Every time you get a library card, make a hire-purchase agreement, apply for a fishing or gun license, buy a piece of property, withdraw a fairly small amount of your money from your bank, take a prescription to your chemist, apply for a resident's parking permit, buy a plane ticket, or pay for your car to be unclamped you will be required to swipe your card and the database will silently record the transaction. There will be almost no part of your life that the state will not be able to inspect. And it will be able to use the database to draw very precise conclusions about the sort of person you are - your spending habits, your ethnicity, your religion, your political leanings, your health and even perhaps your sexual preferences. Little wonder that MI5 desired - and was granted - free access to the database. Little wonder that the police, customs and tax authorities welcome the database as a magnificent aid to investigation.
Here in the United States, we're saddled with the Real ID Act. While our version appears to be no where near as intrusive as the UK's, I believe this was by design. You see, on the road to tyranny the UK is a few stoplights ahead of us. U.S. lawmakers knew that they would have to ease Americans into a total surveillance state or they would become unruly... and they wouldn't want that. (Insert analogy of how to boil a frog here.)
Wikipedia has a pretty decent bit of information on the Real ID Act here, or--if you're like me--you can read the text of the bill here. The issue I have with our version is the same issue Henry Porter raises in his article. The ID cards will all be linked to a central database that will be accessible by anyone in any level of government.
My prediction: It won't be long before we'll see mission creep with respect to what information the government says needs to be stored in their databases. They'll justify this by claiming that it will keep us secure from terrorism.


Blogger Mark said...

Yet another reason why the entire Congress should be kicked out of office and especially every one that voted for the PATRIOT Act.

9:44 PM  

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