Saturday, May 07, 2005
Federal ID . . . . more debate
"NO PLACE TO HIDE: WHERE THE DATA REVOLUTION MEETS HOMELAND SECURITY"
. . . . "The 9/11 commission broached the prospect that at some point, U.S. citizens and U.S. persons would be required to prove who they are - who they say they are and have a right to be where they are. We are only beginning to this vital debate regarding, how, when, and by whom this should be done and to whom this should apply. The real ID debate or lack of a debate is a lost opportunity. Unfortunately, the legislation under consideration the Congress right now has not really been debated at all. Most people understand the link between security and travel, given how 9/11 unfolded. Most people understand the need for greater security around our critical infrastructure and essential operations of government. There is far less agreement as to the appropriate means of identification and verification: a de facto national ID like the driver's license or an actual national ID. There has been even less public discussion regarding the kinds of information, databases, protocols, and legal protections that would be required to support any kind of smart credential.
We have yet to find our Goldilocks point, if that's what you want to call it, regarding security and privacy. The Total Information Awareness program, later renamed the Terrorist Information Awareness program; CAPPSII; the revised airline passenger screening system that failed because the government overreached by extending the program's application beyond its security and terrorism mandate; the incident involving Jet Blue. We have yet to get it just right with the mix of data collection and analysis and privacy protections and oversight.
What is clear is the American people need to be more engaged and understand the promise of technology and its potential risks. To borrow a Rumsfeldian phrase, homeland security can't be an unknown known, where the American people do not understand how the government is acting on its behalf, but potentially at its expense. Homeland security will be sustainable over time only if it has the clear consent and involvement of the American people."
(italics are mine)
So here's the situation. We are on the brink of acquiring a national ID card with connections to large databases of information, but there are no guidelines and no public discussion of what data should be available and to whom. Certainly this can be used for the national good, but there have to be legal protections as well.
Right now there are databases which, when compiled into one, make accessable your age, race, gender, religious affiliation, political party, criminal records, educational records, taxable income, un-listed phone number, purchases at Home Depot, driver's license photos, home address (with a satellite photo of your neighborhood), prescription records.
"When he was leaving the White House, President Eisenhower said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acuisitio of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the way of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and miltary machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."
How do you want that information to be used? What legal protection do we need?