Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Union sounds alarm over background checks for new ID

OK, this is scary and very big-brotherish.

I have heard about this 'National Id,' and the huge fight that has been going on to escape it, but I didn't realize they were already implementing it. Orwell is squirming:

  • Fifteen States Have Passed Anti-REAL ID Legislation. As the deadline for compliance draws closer, more states are opting out of the controversial REAL ID national identification system. The states that have passed anti-REAL ID legislation are: Arkansas (pdf), Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Washington. The resistance to REAL ID is growing. In May, more than 60 organizations and 215 blogs joined a campaign to submit comments against REAL ID. There are bills in both the U.S. House and Senate that would repeal the national identification scheme. EPIC and 24 experts in privacy and technology submitted detailed comments (pdf) explaining the many privacy and security threats raised by the REAL ID Act. For more information, see EPIC's Spotlight on Surveillance for March. (June 5)
  • Congress Debates Bills That Broaden Uses of REAL ID. The House (pdf) and Senate (pdf) are debating immigration bills that include provisions broadening the uses of REAL ID cards and licenses, which do not exist. Both bills create a national employment eligibility verification system, which would use REAL ID cards for identification and eligibility verification. The Senate bill forbids the use of non-REAL ID cards in the verfication system after 2013. Both bills permit the DHS Secretary to prohibit the use of certain documents for employment verification. This would give the DHS Secretary the power to mandate the use of a national ID card, such as the REAL ID card, as the sole acceptable document for employment eligibility verification in the United States. EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg is expected to testify at a Congressional hearing on the House bill next week. For more on the bills, see EPIC's Spotlight on Surveillance for May. (May 31)
  • Georgia and Nevada Join Revolt Against REAL ID. Georgia and Nevada have become the ninth and tenth states to pass legislation against REAL ID. The Georgia bill allows the governor to delay implementation "until the Department of Homeland Security has issued regulations that the Governor finds will adequately protect the interests of the citizens of Georgia." Nevada passed a joint resolution urging Congress to repeal the fundamentally flawed national identification scheme. Eight other states have passed anti-REAL ID legislation. Washington (pdf) and Montana (pdf) chose to opt-out completely. Colorado (pdf) and Idaho refuse to spend any money on REAL ID implementation. Arkansas (pdf), Hawaii, Maine, and North Dakota are calling for its repeal. There are bills in both the U.S. House and Senate that would repeal REAL ID. (May 16)
  • DHS Receives More Than 12,000 Comments on REAL ID Draft Regulations. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it has received more than 12,000 comments on its draft implementation regulations for the REAL ID Act. The public comment process was marked with problems. Many people complained that they were unable file comments through the Web site and fax number that DHS provided in its federal rulemaking. One day before the comments were due, DHS finally set up an e-mail address to which people could send comments. REAL ID faces considerable opposition by the public, the States and in Congress. More than 60 organizations and 215 blogs joined a campaign to submit comments against REAL ID. Washington (pdf) and Montana (pdf) passed legislation to opt-out completely. Colorado (pdf) and Idaho will not spend any money on REAL ID implementation. Arkansas (pdf), Hawaii, Maine, and North Dakota are calling for its repeal. Both houses of Congress are debating legislation that would repeal the ill-conceived law. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday about REAL ID, Chairman Patrick Leahy said, "The days of Congress rubber-stamping any and every idea cooked up by this administration are over." Sen. Leahy has co-sponsored a bill to repeal REAL ID. (May 9)

The Real Id Act faced a great deal of opposition, including a direct warning from Rep. Ron Paul, but apparently slipped through via a Presidential Directive.

President Bush issued a directive in 2004 requiring a new ID card to help deter terrorists, criminals and computer hackers.

The cards, which resemble credit cards, are embedded with a computer chip that permits an exchange of data with another system.

In addition to building access, smart cards can be used to supplement passwords for logging on to computers, with users inserting the card into readers on their desktops.

Pre-Katrina, so I (at least) wasn't paying much attention, must have missed this.

Anyway, the unions are now facing the implementation of these cards, and apparently they come with sweeping background checks that include collection of financial and medical information (isn't this protected by HIPAA?)

Some federal employees are smarting over their smart-card treatment.

Background investigations of federal and contract workers being conducted for a new government-wide identification card, which carries a computer chip, have drawn objections at two agencies and rumblings of concern at others.
The National Federation of Federal Employees has raised questions about the background checks on behalf of its unionized members at the General Services Administration. Four research scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California have written to members of Congress and contacted NASA officials to make clear their opposition to the background checks.

The Bush administration's goal is to replace the multiple ID cards used in the government with a single "smart" card that will verify a person's identity and give him or her access to federal buildings and permission to log on to government computer networks. The cards are being issued in phases, with agencies facing a deadline of late 2008.

Before cards are issued, federal employees and contractors must provide fingerprints and disclose financial, medical and other personal data. The forms filled out by employees and contractors are matched against databases to verify the information. For some employees holding sensitive jobs, agents are sent to interview neighbors.

Some employees are nervous that they could lose their jobs if their agencies take a dim view of excessive credit card debt, unpaid parking tickets or restraining orders issued in divorce proceedings. Some employees also are concerned about the potential for identity theft if their personal information is stolen or lost from a database.

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