Monday, January 21, 2008

Real ID - Unnecessary Surveillance

Under the Real ID system, the individual draws his/ her rights from the act of possession of an identity card. Hence, a citizen can exercise his/ her fundamental rights contingent on their papers and documentation being in correct order. What we need to ask ourselves is if we should be forced to sacrifice our privacy for something that is of no practical use.

It is important to clearly define the objectives that the Real ID system is to accomplish. The system is expected to help identify illegal immigrants, track potential terrorists, solve problems of identity theft and provide a secure pathway for delivery of government services. Let’s examine these points.

Illegal Immigration

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was enacted to curb illegal immigration into the USA. In a disincentive for migrants in search of work, the Act made it illegal to employ aliens and those without a work permit. The act also called for greater enforcement at the borders and created new categories for seasonal agricultural workers.

The IRCA didn’t succeed in reducing employment opportunities either. Businesses simply realized that, due to their desperate situation, migrant labor was now even easier to exploit; thus, forcing illegal immigration further underground and victimizing legal Hispanic residents and job seekers.

In fact all the Real ID will do is track existing citizens as they apply for jobs. It also provides a method for corporations to circumvent existing privacy laws regarding tax information and employment status. Allowing banks and loan agencies to track your whereabouts and garnish wages at their discretion. If you work, your day to day business will be known by the corporate/government complex.

Terrorist Prevention

Supporters of the Real ID have argued that the system could have helped prevent the 9/11 tragedy if a record of their activities had been easily available. What the supporters fail to mention is the fact that all the hijackers involved in the attack had entered the United States legally, had mostly valid travel documents and most were not on any government watch list, with the result that the Real ID or any similar system would not have helped foil their plans.

Remember, it is mandatory for all Spanish citizens to carry an identity card, but that could not prevent the Madrid Bombings in March 2004 where at least 190 people were killed.

Delivery of Services

Given the ambitious aims of the Real ID, it shall probably be mandatory to carry the card at all times. Citizens without cards could have their rights temporarily withdrawn and their access to public spaces and services denied. They will not be allowed to fly, enter government facilities, receive public assistance, obtain prescription medications or apply for employment.

A citizen no longer has control over their personal and private information and is forced to share it with government and private agencies. They are forced to subject themselves to a search that is almost as physically intrusive as a bodily search.

You will be denied basic freedoms and access given to every generation to this point if you decided not to participate. You will not be allowed to “pass”, participation is mandatory.

Identity Theft

The arguments in favor of implementing Real ID are based on the fundamental assumption that the card will be truly infallible and will provide a foolproof method of identification. Once this basic assumption is questioned, the potential for misuse is frightening.

Once you have bound your entire life to this card you cannot unbind it. If someone where to steal you identity they would have access to not only your financial data but every intimate detail of your life. Is this a risk you are willing to take.

Corporate Involvement

Another worrying fact is that the role of private companies in the project has not been defined. The government has stated that it is interested in a public-private partnership whose modalities are yet to be worked out. The role played by these companies shall play a crucial role in defining the extent to which our privacy shall be compromised.

Corporate America could, with the simple passage of a law, start selling your location information to who ever wanted to stalk you. Any voyeur could gain personal insight into the most private details of your life including medical records. The government does not have a good track record keeping private information out of corporate America’s hands:

In 1936, President Roosevelt and the American congress promised that every citizen’s social security number would be kept confidential. Since 1936, there have been at least 40 amendments to the act, thereby ensuring that the social security number is one of the most visible features of all individual transactions in America today. The number is required to operate bank accounts and credit cards, for job applications and filing taxes, for accessing Medicare and drawing pensions.

It should be expected that Real ID will follow the same path.


Post 9/11, the world has been gripped by an anxiety to gather as much human intelligence as possible, and states have made a persuasive case for the sacrifice of our rights of freedom and privacy at the altar of national security.

Real ID and similar projects, contribute to an argument that the terrorist, the subversive and the anti-national can be stereotyped as a social profile. This reduces law enforcement into a simple task of comparing citizen profiles against a pre-determined template, identifying successful matches and arresting the guilty. Clearly, this is a flawed means of approaching the problem.

Tie the Real ID legislation with the Violent Radicalization Act overwhelmingly passed by the House in 2007; it will be taken up by the Senate in early 2008, and a clear pattern of the desire to profile and track American citizens who think differently than the establishment comes into focus. Imagine being denied a job because you believe Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ not about consumerism and reckless consumption.

Police State

Identity cards are not simply the proof of our identities; they represent an elaborate series of institutions and processes put in place by society and the State. They represent the successful establishment of the state as the sole legitimate agent of control of society. While state interventions in society are not always negative; moves to map, categorize and monitor citizenry violate our rights as members of a free society.

Real ID Fails

Real ID shall fail on all counts; curbing of illegal immigration, effective and foolproof identification, and the combating of crime and terrorism. Instead, it shall stifle individual freedom, track citizens and blur the distinction between government and corporate interests.

Contact your state representative and urge them not to participate in the Real ID. If enough states opt out the federal government will be forced to abandon this obvious and necessary step down the road to fascism.

To contact your state representative go to Project Vote Smart.

This article was complied from many sources on the internet.


theotherryan said...

We are already a lot closer to this reality then most would like to admit. Try getting onto a plans, train or boat without showing some form of state sponsered ID. Law enforcement has the right to detain anyone without proper ID until proper ID can be produced (and they should have this right). National ID is a scary concept period. It is doubly scary that so much other information would be combined and tracked by it. We might as well just have an ID/Debit card/ Drivers license/ Passport implanted into peoples right hand. If someone says they want to put a chip in me I will say no. Real ID might as well be a chip in the hand as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

Revelations 13:16-17

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

BigBear said...

Police should only have the right to detain you with probable cause and be able to state why they want the ID. You can't just round people up and demand their IDs. Let's say you were at a political rally and the police demanded everyones IDs only to document those attending. Should that be allowed? What about demanding IDs to document the homeless population in your city? Should that be allowed?

If a crime was committed and the police are looking at you as a suspect then yes they can demand identification, otherwise no. It is simply an intimidation tactic and can't be allowed.

Anonymous said...

Comrade, your papers please!

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."