Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ID card

I somehow have myself on a bunch of right-wing email lists -- I regularly receive missives from Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and various right-wing organizations. Not sure how that happened, but they are amusing (if you temporarily tell your brain it is all a joke). Anyway, here's one I received yesterday, warning against a national ID card:
Dear Friend of Liberty,

Unbelievably, Congress and the Obama administration are currently trying to resurrect the failed REAL ID Act, more accurately named “Dangerous ID.”

Dangerous ID, which passed in 2005, establishes a de facto National Identification System, and opens the doors for Federal biometric tracking of every American citizen.

And although Dangerous ID is a clear attempt to establish a National ID System, the reality might be much worse -- an INTERNATIONAL Identification System. That’s why it is so critical we get that law off the books.

You see, Dangerous ID actually requires that driver’s license photographs meet United Nation’s biometric format standards. At this level of sophistication, government software can analyze facial characteristics and generate a unique identification number.

Think about that for a moment -- your identity will be reduced to a single number in an international database that can be tracked globally by one-world government surveillance cameras and facial recognition software.

I find the fear of all things international to be rather amusing, but it struck me odd that certain strains of conservativism probably have a lot in common with the ACLU, at least on this particular issue.

Personally, I think we should have a national ID card, because let's face it, we already have a mismashed system of identification that is a frickin' mess. We have Social Security numbers, State-issued driver's licenses, Federally-issued Passports, all of which, combined, function as an ID system. Later in life you probably also get a Medicaid ID. Further, none of these systems are connected to, say, voter rolls or the IRS. If I move, I need to tell the state of Massachusetts about it to get a new driver's license, but I also need to tell the IRS, and the Post Office, and I need to re-register to vote. That is nuts.

Maybe I'm not paranoid enough, but I have zero fear of what the government would do to me if I had an ID card, if that ID card had some sort of biometric system to it (hell, they can sequence my whole genome if they want), and if that ID card combined the functions of our various current systems. If the government wanted to take away all my civil liberties, well, there's nothing stopping them from currently doing that, as we've learned during the Bush adminstration. So I fail to see how an ID card is going to, all of a sudden, but all the power in Big Brother's hands.