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:
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.
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.
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)
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.