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The Real ID Rebellion...


This is a good place to keep up with the problems about, and opposition to, the Real ID act -- which was recently passed 100-0 as part of an appropriations measure.  In case you aren't aware, the Real ID Act requires states to issue identification cards (eg, driver's licenses) with standard information on them, including standard machine-readable data.

I'm not sufficiently educated on this issue to recommend joining.  I don't think that a "national ID" carries any security benefits; with 300 million of them around, they will be far to easy to fake or steal.  I don't like the idea, whatever the justification.  But I'm not prepared to lay it all on the line just yet. 

So, if you're a member of the Real ID Rebellion, this is your chance to convince me.   Here are my premises:
  1. The government of a nation (whether state or federal) has the legitimate power to identify its citizens in some minimally-intrusive way, in order to exercise the legitimate functions of government.
  2. Insofar as the power to compel a citizen to identify himself exists, that power is separate from the question of whether a standard means of identification exists.  The creation of a standard national ID does not by itself require that it be presented as a travel document or upon demand.
  3. Insofar as existing law is concerned, agents of the State are already empowered (legitimately or not) to demand identification without probable cause and to arrest those who do not comply.  This can be a universal requirement, as is presently the case for air travel, and soon to be the case for train travel or a random-stop requirement.  (See the Hiibel case)
  4. Insofar as existing law is concerned, the Patriot Act already requires financial institutions to request multiple forms of identification before transacting any significant financial acts, including opening a bank account, transferring sums in excess of $10,000, and so on.  Some of these acts also trigger reporting requirements.  These requirements DO NOT depend on the Real ID Act.
So as far as I can tell, having a standard national ID in and of itself doesn't make the situation much worse.  The real damage has already been done in that area. 

So what could make it bad enough to fight?  Well, the present law calls for a common, machine-readable data format.  That could be a magnetic strip that many drivers' license cards already have.  It could also be RFID technology, which would enable the card to be "read" instantly, and invisibly, from a range of several yards away.  An identification card that used RFID technology and was universally carried in a manner similar to the way driver's licenses are today would be a surveillance wet dream.  That would be worth rebelling against.  But the present law doesn't require RFID technology.

So if you oppose this, and you think it's worth putting your lives and sacred honor into the fight, here and now, tell me why... and tell me how you plan to win.  I need some good arguments so I don't feel like I'm tilting at windmills.

This entry was published 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0 by matthew@triggerfinger.org and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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