Friday, April 9, 2010

FLOGGER: REAL ID Continues Its Long, Slow Failure

National ID bashing with Cato's Jim Harper

REAL ID continues its long, slow failure. The federal government’s national ID plans continue to bash against the shoals of state and popular opposition.

Late last month, the governor of Utah signed H.B. 234 into law. The bill prohibits the Utah driver license division from implementing REAL ID. That brings to 25 the number of states rejecting the national ID law, according to the Tenth Amendment Center.

And the State of Nevada, one of the few states that had been working to get in front of REAL ID, is reconsidering. With wait times at Las Vegas DMVs reaching two to four hours, the legislature may soon allow a temporary REAL ID implementation measure signed last year to lapse—this according to the Ely (NV) News.

Congress has attempted to circumvent the growing state opposition to REAL ID with the now-stalled PASS ID legislation. It basically would rename REAL ID so as to nullify the many state resolutions and laws barring implementation of the national ID law because they refer to the May 2005 “REAL ID” law specifically. But PASS ID is the same national ID, it has all the privacy issues of REAL ID, and its costs would be as great or greater than REAL ID.

That doesn’t mean national ID supporters in Congress won’t try to sneak the REAL ID revival bill into law sometime later this year, of course . .

BTC - I encourage subscribers and visitors to please check our national ID wire on the side bar of our page. You can usually catch Jim Harper's column as early as he posts it. We don't post-re-post everything because of the wire. However, you can always tell us what you want to see more of [at]

Fusion Centers & FOIAs at center of DHS transparency plans


On the Blog @ Homeland Security, DHS unveiled its Open Government Plan in accordance with the White House’s Open Government Initiative. The department says its Open Government Plan doesn’t simplycheck a box or fulfill a requirement, but that would chart a clear course forward as we mature the department and work with our stakeholders and state, local, and tribal partners to develop the homeland security enterprise.”

DHS’ plan mandates a 15 percent reduction of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request backlogs per year at DHS to” enhance transparency of departmental records and communications.”

The plan also calls for the expansion of “Virtual USA,” a DHS information-sharing initiative, that links varied tools and technologies to improve communication between first responders during emergencies.

One effort by DHS highlighted in the plan is the creation and support of fusion centers with state and local governments, which are “critical assets in preventing crime and terrorism in communities across the country through two-way intelligence and information sharing between DHS and the rest of the federal government and our state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners.”

One aspect of the plan that is noteworthy was DHS’ solicitation and use of public feedback in drafting the plan. DHS “plan[s] to continue this method of public engagement as we develop other initiatives and tools.”

Small-town California loses one stop red-light camera

City to remove red-light camera

c/o Daily Journal, San Mateo County

The city of San Carlos will likely remove its single red-light camera because it is losing more than $2,000 each month at the current location and has no other intersections that warrant that type of enforcement, according to officials.

In October, the City Council considered switching the camera at westbound Brittan Avenue and Industrial Road to Holly Street after learning the area had a significant number of violations. But a new traffic signal looping system installed at the site improved traffic flow. A new survey in March showed the violations had been completely eliminated, according to Police Chief Greg Rothaus.

Besides, if the city moves the existing camera, it must extend the current contract with Redflex beyond its Oct. 27, 2011 end date.

With no need for enforcement and no desire to continue a program that loses money, the City Council Monday night will consider giving Redflex, Inc. written notice not to automatically renew the contract.

Currently, the city pays Redflex a fixed fee of $5,870 monthly through November 2010 no matter how many violations occur — a model which lets the city avoid the scrutiny of jurisdictions who pay nothing for their systems but receive revenue exceeding a pre-defined amount.

San Carlos pays another $2,000 in expenses each month used for personnel costs associated with the program, bringing the total annual cost to approximately $94,440.
The city lost approximately $70,000 over the two years, Rothaus told the City Council when the issue first arose in October.

Although the city will benefit by not running an average monthly deficit of $2,213, Assistant City Manager Brian Moura said city officials were swayed more by the lack of need.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

NO2ID: ID propaganda sent to guinea pig regions

DNA report and pre-crime

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has published a report into The National DNA Database. In it they point out that the detection rate of DNA is not all that the government claim it is and go on to suggest that the database is actually used for pre-crime. The report states: "It is currently impossible to say with certainty how
many crimes are detected, let alone how many result in convictions, due at least in part to the matching of crime scene DNA to a personal profile already on the database, but it appears that it may be as little as 0.3%---and we note that the reason for retaining personal profiles on a database is so that the person can be linked to crimes he/she commits later".


ID propaganda sent to guinea pig regions

The government continues to roll out the ID card con to selected guinea pigs, trying to drum up trade by sending propaganda leaflets to households in selected regions. The leaflet features a smiley fingerprint character with the slogan: "idsmart, ID at your fingertips". What follows is a letter presenting a list of half truths, signed by the
'Head of Product Marketing'. The leaflet sweeps aside the thorny issue of how voluntary ID cards will be, stating: "Applying for an identity card is entirely voluntary. However, once you do so, you'll discover that it's a safer, more convenient way to prove who you are - as well as to help protect yourself against identity fraud." In fact there are many other things that guinea pigs would discover, such as the database behind the card or the fines that will be imposed for not keeping their information up to date.

See the leaflet at

Scaremongering over ID card jobs

A number of politicians have recently turned to scaremongering about job losses they claim would result from scrapping the ID scheme. However, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to both Blackburn and Durham
Identity and Passport (IPS) offices have shown that no new job roles have been created from the scheme. Workers within IPS could simply be deployed back into issuing passports.

James Elsdon-Baker, NO2ID's North of England co-ordinator said, "The claim that we need the £230,000 a day ID scheme for jobs is madness when the government is readily announcing cuts in front-line services. When the scheme is scrapped I'm sure the civil servants that have been made to work on ID cards would be happy to go back to working on useful things that people want."

THE LATE-LATE HOOT for Privacy with PRA’s Thomas Cincotta

Photo c/o Liberty Underground

BTC - Waking Up Orwell's shaky yet buoyant history in the world of net-broadcast has begat another episode. This one better than the last - alas horribly late but with great vintage.

"As usual, we get the best stuff for show and it is usually oh-so aptly timed. We start with good news report from traveling Libertarian Congressional candidate Philip Berg on his way to the D.C. area. This week’s DIY government segment becomes a challenge to go get your own FOIA dossiers back from the FBI - Thomas Cincotta tells you how."

As promised, Ed Hasbrouks two-cents to the community of international privacy and security as dispersed at the Protection of Personal Data in Transatlantic Security Cooperation, a public hearing somewhere in Europe. *Big thanks to Brad Jansen for the lead.

National ID and Personal Privacy

Central to a new immigration bill is a national ID proposal, which, if instituted, would undermine personal liberty and expand government surveillance abilities.

With the stated intent of combating illegal immigration, Senators Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) are crafting new legislation to institute a national identification card. The card would be required in order to be eligible for employment, and would in turn enable employers to identify and reject illegal immigrants who are seeking work.

The card would be biometric, i.e., containing identifying characteristics unique to the physiology of the cardholder. In this case the biometrics would most likely be comprised of either a fingerprint or a scan of the veins on the back of the hand. This is not the first time a biometric card has been proposed: in the wake of 9-11, there was a strong push for a national ID card on the basis of national security.

Schumer and Graham claim that the institution of a national ID would not be accompanied by the creation of a complementary database; however, no national identification system has ever operated independently of a database. It would be impossible to run a national ID system without a corresponding database available for purposes of verification.

Thus, although the card would initially include only biometric and citizenship data, such a national ID system would be the backbone of a virtually limitless government-run database comprised of citizens’ personal information. Networked with other sources of government information, a national ID system would allow the government to create expansive personal profiles of every individual in the United States.

The appeal of the national ID card, apart from its supposed efficacy in excluding illegal immigrants from the workforce, is that it provides an efficient means of identification and simplifies processes requiring identification. The ID card, for instance, could potentially be used at borders, in security clearance checks, and in streamlining government distribution of entitlements.

But there is little reason to believe that a national ID system, once instituted, would be confined to these original functions. It is far more likely that the national ID would come to serve, as the ACLU has argued, as an “internal passport,” allowing government to track law-abiding citizens as they go about their daily business. It is plausible, even, that the national ID could eventually supplant all other forms of identification and be employed in virtually every transaction.

Under such a scenario, whenever you make a purchase, you swipe your national ID card for verification. To check out a book at the library you use your ID card. To swipe into your office, or even your home, you simply use your ID card. At toll booths, you swipe your ID card. In the name of security and efficiency, the ID card could be employed as a means of identity verification in virtually every situation the individual takes part in throughout an average day.

As the proprietor of the card, the government would have access to this data and funnel it into its ever-expanding database. The government would then have an extensive record of countless transactions in which the average American engages. In short, the national ID and its corresponding database would form the backbone of a totalitarian surveillance state.

The card is a gateway to East German-style monitoring of individuals’ personal lives. Every act would be subject to governmental scrutiny. Many aspects of personal liberty have not heretofore been legislated simply because relevant laws would be unenforceable. But if the government were endowed with complete surveillance power, every facet of human life would be opened up to regulation and intrusion.

As has been the case in the past concerning national ID legislation, the issue here concerns the competing interests of privacy and law enforcement. The question of properly balancing these has posed a perpetual problem for a country committed to the safety and freedom of its people.

The real problem, however, arises when methods adopted for the purposes of law enforcement are instead appropriated in the employment of less savory programs. Creating political structures that endow leaders with vast control over the personal lives of citizens is to invite abuse: leaders with no scruples concerning personal liberty have no qualms employing government power to oppress the people.

What is important, then, in cases involving security and the collection of personal data (similar observations apply to wiretapping) is to maintain due process of law. The avenues of information available to government must be tightly controlled and subject to strict judicial scrutiny. In most cases this takes the form of warrants.

A warrant strikes a balance between liberty and security: it typically allows the government access to information, but does so only after forcing it to submit to procedural safeguards and the objective evaluation of a judge.

The problem with a national ID card and a federal database is that there are no procedural safeguards. In other areas these procedural safeguards have been eroded (for instance, by the Patriot Act), but with a national database no such safeguards would exist from the start. The government does not need a warrant to access its own database.

The power to track every citizen and monitor his daily behavior is a power that could not wisely be trusted to any individual. Even socialist England has rejected a national ID, largely on the basis of privacy concerns. The goal of law enforcement is certainly admirable. But the potential benefits of a national ID pale in comparison to the abuses possible at the hands of a government with unchecked surveillance powers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

PRIVACY: Our word vs. the Military Industrial Complex

CEIdotorg — March 16, 2010 — Competitive Enterprise Institute Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh debates the proposal to assign all U.S. workers a national I.D. card to combat illegal immigration.

Monday, April 5, 2010

BONUS: Citizen's guide to surviving police encounters

BTC- Based on what we know about police these days, you need to know more.



You might remember Mr. Briggs as the comedic author of the infamous Drive-In Movie Review columns (which popularized such terms as bimbo-fu, the sign of the two-backed beast, and three and a half breasts). He's successfully branched out, becoming a Twain-like cultural critic, while retaining his reputation for honesty, impartiality, and accuracy (unlike his erstwhile competitor Michael "Mike" Medved, whose judgment can't be trusted, given his ridiculous "two thumbs up" reviews of Israel and illegal immigration).
Check it out.
    "What if you spent 1997 hanging out in Rudy's Adult Video? It was just sort of a PHASE you were going through, and yes, you did charge $3,500 on Rudy's Adult Video three-for-the-price-of-two video specials. But you had no idea that when you applied for a job 10 years later at one of those super-high-security Enron-type companies, they would do a "deep background check" tied to your National Eye-Dee Card. "Take a seat, Mr. Wilson. We have a few questions about the 'Nurse Nasty' video series starring Jasmine St. Clair. Is it true that you watched all 34 volumes?"

    There aren't many people left alive from the Depression years, when the Congress first passed the Social Security Act, but part of the big debate over it was whether it was constitutional to REQUIRE people to have an official number. I can remember old coots in Texas who were ready to go to prison rather than to submit to being numbered by the government. There were preachers who said it was Satan's work, a sign of the end times, when everyone would have the mark of the beast.

    And look what happened. The old coots were right! After Congress repeatedly said that the Social Security number would ONLY be used to keep track of pension benefits, it was used by every government agency -- including law enforcement -- and every private agency -- including credit card databases that can track you back to the beginning of time -- to make sure you weren't pulling a fast one.

    Later the same thing happened with drivers licenses. The purpose of a drivers license is ... class? ... to DRIVE A CAR. Nothing else. I don't imagine there are people still around who, when getting their license, say, "Now you're not gonna use this information for any other purpose, are you?" Because they already know the answer."

      Think he's being paranoid? Guess again.

      More reasons why a national ID is completely unacceptable.