Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Real ID Act - Szho me your paypurz
It's the nightmare of every citizen who has lived under an authoritarian regime: the man in the uniform or black leather trench coat and porkpie hat pops up in front of you and says,
"Show me your papers."
Something we normally have never had to think about in this here Land of the Free. In fact, our anonymity used to be one of the characteristics of the free American, viz. "Who was that masked man?" and the “Man With No Name.”
That’s all changed.
Traditionally – and for most purposes - you whipped out your birth certificate or a driver’s license, occasionally a credit card. It has always been a situational affair, between you and Blockbuster, for instance. But back in the spring of 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act, a real piece of business. Frankly, what's in your wallet has never been the government's business, and neither should your identity walking down the street, minding your own affairs. I personally can’t find any authority in the Constitution to authorize Congress’ mandate for a national identification system, but that didn’t stop them. God knows that little old lady only looks like a kindly grandmother; she’s really a turrerist with an A-bomb hiding under her flowered hat. Or maybe I am – or you.
This Act calls for an electronic chip embedded in your shiny new plastic ID card, just brimming with your vital stats: height, weight, date of birth, color of eyes and hair, address, name of your pet dog, probably your credit rating, everything. This is the matching program for the little ID chips the manufacturers placed in your cell phone, allowing the FBI to zero in on you.
Oh, you didn’t know that? Sorry - you’re too late on that one, too.
Leaving aside the question of the feds’ authority to pull this on its citizens is the fact that the feds once again left it to the states to pay for this program, and gave them precious little funding to do it. The feds do this to the states by threatening to withhold funding on highway projects or some such balderdash, but the states are already bleeding, so where is the real threat? Still, California is estimating that it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars for our state alone, and probably won’t be secure in any case.
We all know that any hacker worth his Gyro Gearloose merit badge can whip up a fake ID in microseconds, so what’s the point?
Here’s the point: can you say “regimentation?” Or how about, “lose-of-civil-rights-creep”?
Whatever, the law has been passed, and it’s a done deal, like it or not. Your congressperson voted for it, and you are now a number, tracked by ADVISE, ECHELON and God knows how many other DOD, DARPA, and NSA pet projects.
Thanks again, Goat Boy.