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NO National ID Card – Not Now, Not Ever

Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM

There's word out of Washington that the Bush administration may be supporting the creation of a national ID card for all Americans, and some members of Congress are champing at the bit to force us all to carry these symbols of tyranny.

Although I doubt that the president himself wants to impose this clearly unconstitutional move – it's not the kind of thing this fiercely independent Texan would be apt to favor – there are obviously some people in the White House who do, and President Bush ought to find those who are leaking this misleading information and get rid of them, pronto.

Moreover, a spokesman for Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, told NewsMax.com that there has been no word out of the White House or any bills filed yet creating a national ID card law. Paul helped lead the fight against the last congressional attempt to shove this idea down our national throat, and can be counted on to be there again if it raises its ugly head.

Among those banging the drum for a national ID card is Oracle's Larry Ellison who says, aw shucks, there's not much privacy left anyway.

Ellison, who has offered to donate the software need to make this massive invasion of Americans' privacy possible, told news anchor Hank Plante of San Francisco's KPIX-TV: "Well, this privacy you're concerned about is largely an illusion. All you have to give up is your illusions, not any of your privacy.

"Right now, you can go onto the Internet and get a credit report about your neighbor and find out where your neighbor works, how much they earn and if they had a late mortgage payment and tons of other information."

If Ellison gets his way, we'll all be fingerprinted and the information would be placed on a database used by airport security officials to verify identities of travelers at airplane gates.

"We need a national ID card with our photograph and thumbprint digitized and embedded in the ID card," Ellison said in an interview Friday night on the evening news of KPIX-TV in San Francisco.

"We need a database behind that, so when you're walking into an airport and you say that you are Larry Ellison, you take that card and put it in a reader and you put your thumb down and that system confirms that this is Larry Ellison," he said.

But that database would not be the sole property of airport security agencies – it would be available to all of Big Brother's busybody functionaries who would be able to tell us they know where we are and what we're doing.

Comforting idea, isn't it?

He's not alone in his shocking disregard for one of the most cherished rights Americans treasure. Scads of members of Congress have supported the idea, includ8ing Senate Majority Leader Tom Dasche and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Congress once even voted to force states to turn their driver's license programs into a national ID system by requiring all licenses to carry the individual's Social Security number and fingerprints.

According to the British media, Rep. George Gekas, R-Pa., the chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, told reporters last week that Congress could no longer turn its back on a national ID card system for all citizens.

The liberal – and aptly named – Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, whose polls somehow always reflect the latest left-wing agenda, claims that seven out of 10 Americans favor giving up their rights to privacy by being forced to carry a national identity card at all times. The proposal, Pew reports, had particularly strong support from women.

Yeah, sure. We're all agog over the idea of surrendering a lot more of our rapidly vanishing privacy to Big Brother. We just can't wait.

Fortunately, not everybody thinks that way.

"It strikes me as a form of overreaction to the events that we have experienced," Robert Post, a constitutional law professor at the University of California-Berkeley, told the San Jose Mercury. "If we allow a terrorist attack to destroy forms of freedom that we have enjoyed, we will have given the victory to them. This kind of recommendation does just that."

Post said while such a system may catch some criminals, it could be hacked or faked or evaded by capable terrorists. Nor, he added, is it clear that such a system would have foiled the Sept. 11 attacks.

Even the leftist American Civil Liberty Union opposes the idea, warning: "A national ID card would essentially serve as an internal passport. It would create an easy new tool for government surveillance and could be used to target critics of the government, as has happened periodically throughout our nation's history."

Privacy International, which has fought the concept all over the world, has this to say about national ID card laws:

"... the implications are profound. The existence of a person's life story in a hundred unrelated databases is one important condition that protects privacy. The bringing together of these separate information centers creates a major privacy vulnerability. Any multi-purpose national ID card has this effect.

"Some privacy advocates in the UK argue against ID cards on the basis of evidence from various security threat models in use throughout the private sector. In these models, it is generally assumed that at any one time, one per cent of staff will be willing to sell or trade confidential information for personal gain. In many European countries, up to one per cent of bank staff are dismissed each year, often because of theft.

"The evidence for this potential corruption is compelling. Recent inquiries in Australia, Canada and the United States indicate that widespread abuse of computerized information is occurring. Corruption amongst information users inside and outside the government in New South Wales had become endemic and epidemic. Virtually all instances of privacy violation related to computer records.

"Data Protection law is wholly inadequate to deal with the use of ID cards. Indeed legislation in most countries facilitates the use of ID cards, while doing little or nothing to limit the spectrum of its uses or the accumulation of data on the card or its related systems."

In 1996 the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed into law. Section 656 (b) of this Act allowed government agencies to issue new driver's licenses that were national ID cards. For the past few years politicians and civil liberties groups have been fighting over the privacy issues involved with national ID cards and violations of constitutional rights.

Fortunately, in October of 1999 when the Transportation Appropriations bill passed, it included the Shelby Amendment, which repealed Section 656 (b) of the 1996 Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. This makes national ID cards no longer an option. It also forbids state and motor vehicle departments from selling personal information.

Said House Majority Leader Dick Armey at the time: "This is a classic victory over "Big Brother."... A national driver's license with 'biometric identifiers' or Social Security numbers is more suited to a police state than to a free country."

It looks as if we're going to have to score another such "classic victory" if this latest step into an emerging police state is to be stopped dead in its tracks.

Faugh 'a Ballagh!

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There's word out of Washington that the Bush administration may be supporting the creation of a national ID card for all Americans, and some members of Congress are champing at the bit to force us all to carry these symbols of tyranny. Although I doubt that the...
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2001-00-25
Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM
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