In case you haven’t already seen it, The Privacy Coalition website has been up for some time, urging members of the public to submit their comments on REAL-ID before the May 8th deadline. Several states have already said they will not be complying with REAL-ID and others are planning to follow suit.
REAL-ID is not going to make us safer. We must look at the fact that there are going to be far too many points on intrusion into the databases, solely because it is being relied upon as being the defacto identification card in the United States.
REAL-ID is control. The government has no need to know where you are, what your are doing, or how you got there, unless you have committed a crime. Then, the police will step in and do their jobs to find out about the crime. Otherwise, the federal government doesn’t need to know what I’m doing or where I am at during the course of a day.
The main defense from many people is that the government already knows several things that you are doing, such as traveling outside the country, paying your bills, etc., however this should not be used as a defense for REAL-ID. Currently, you have to have search warrants and follow specific protocols in order to access these databases if law enforcement wants to keep a tab on you. If the government is allowed to create a large database that encompasses all that you do, it will be used for data mining and extrapolation, many times without your knowledge. Do not delude yourself into thinking that this will not be abused and don’t even think that there will never be false positives.
REAL-ID, most likely, will also ad some sort of RFID technology to it, either from the start or added at a later time. It will already carry pertinent private information and can be expanded to add biometrics. Do you really want such devices to store all its information about you in a single database? Do you really believe that this will make your life more secure? I suspect that data miners and identity thieves will come to love the REAL-ID database.
While some ask, “why is it such a big deal to have one ID when the government has already issued you several like a driver’s license, social security number, or passport,” I must reply that, as an American citizen, I want to remain as private as I can be. I keep myself as far off the radar of law enforcement as possible. I want to remain “assumed innocent.” I do not want some random piece of data about me being implicated in something illegal. Why do I need to be monitored when I am simply going about my daily business?
One of the issues with REAL-ID is that you cannot enter a federal building without it. When I was in college, I used to cut through the federal courthouse on my way to class. Several other students did so as well, mainly because, in the harsh winter, it was nice to cut off an extra block of walking by going through a nice warm building. Everyone knew what we were doing, yet we remained nameless. No one cared. Now, if REAL-ID goes into effect, I would have to walk around or be subjugated to being scanned every single time I went through the building. This is something that the government simply doesn’t need to know about. Yet, there it would be, in the national database. I could be tracked each day at a specific time. If, and when, the database is hacked in to, anyone could then track my movements.
Another argument is that, when the USA began, people didn’t roam around all that much. They pretty much stayed in their own state. Thus, because people travel so often now, we need a way to easily identify people as they move around. I think, people need to go back and learn their history. Why is it necessary for anyone to know that I traveled to another state today? Why should the government need to know that I popped over to [insert state name] because I wanted to see [insert event]? They don’t. But defenders of REAL-ID think that the government should know.
If the FBI can figure out who belongs to which mafia family by using phone records, imagine what they can find with a single database that can be mined for any type of data, with or without a warrant. Won’t that be nice when the government decides you’re a terrorist because you go to the same church as the guy who ran the red light camera last week because he was late for his meeting with the other guy who owns a chop-shop, who happens to have some name on the super-secret “you are a terrorist” list.
If you think this won’t happen, then ask yourself why the government wants access to everyone’s library records to see what people are checking out. The bullshit stance of “if you’re innocent, then you have nothing to fear,” is just scare mongering to make you think you should accept this like a good, patriotic citizen.
REAL-ID is a bad law passed while America was busy trying to support our troops and provide tsunami relief. We should all be writing to the DHS and giving them the middle finger. We need to voice our displeasure with this legislation and work to get it repealed. We need to inform our legislators that passing bills with unrelated riders attached at the last minute, with politicians who don’t even know the legislation even existed, has got to stop.
There have been many articles written on REAL-ID, both pro and con. Inform yourself of its dangers and let the Department of Homeland Security know your feelings. They are only going to listen until May 8th. After that, we have to continue to encourage our state legislatures to defy the government and refuse to use REAL-ID. So write them too. If the majority of states refuse to comply, we’ll rid ourselves of some bad legislation.