Archive for privacy

The Mark of the Beast

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13 (King James Version)

The fight over a National Identification Card isn’t anything new. In 2005 the passage of the Real ID Act, which standardized state drivers licenses and identification cards to new federal regulations, was fought tooth and nail by privacy advocates and even by the states themselves. The opposition to the then proposed National Id Card grew resulting in some states refusal to comply with the new federal standards which in their eyes violated a person’s privacy, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Once again, new National Id Card legislation is rearing its ugly head in the name of immigration reform and it’s more invasive than ever before.

Details of the newest plan, that makes every person in America completely dependent on the good will of the government surfaced in the Wall Street Journal on March 8th. The article is already creating a firestorm of outrage in independent media circles and conservative talk radio and will become more controversial as the debate continues. The bipartisan push by Senators Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) stipulates that in order to work people must have a government issued identification card complete with biometric information, like fingerprints or a scan of veins on the top of a workers hand. Every person in the country will have their own card saying that the federal government approves of that person’s right to make a living.

The plan is being marketed to both pro-amnesty groups and the suffering working class who are worried about competing with the influx of illegal immigrants who offer cheap labor which in turn suppresses wages in fields like construction. On one side legal workers should welcome the card because it will verify who is eligible to work and on the other the card will provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who work with the system. Everybody wins, the everyday workers, immigrants who want to become legal citizens and especially the government which will solve one of the most politically divisive issues in recent years.

What the Card Is Really For

The greatest chess players in the world, as we all know, don’t think of what they do in terms of the present. Professional chess players see the larger picture using their present moves as a means to achieve a future goal. Governments operate much in the same way. When an unjust law is passed, like the Patriot Act, it isn’t used to its full potential right away. Instead, the laws are gradually tested on a small scale so that people slowly become accustomed and accept them no matter how unjust they are. The concept of a National Identification Card starts off exactly the same; addressing a problem but not showing the true motive until the time is right. If something on its face looks ominous, what’s not being said is often much worse.

The future possibilities for a card that gives people the ability to live an everyday life are endless. While the card starts off by giving people the luxury to work, it will inevitably be used for more than employment. On the off chance that someone can get a job without the approval of the shady overlords in government, new uses for the card will be put in place so there is no escape. Picture having to swipe a card every time you shop for food or clothes, having your friendly neighborhood police officer scanning it making sure you have the privilege of moving from place to place or having to biometrically log onto the internet like bill gates has proposed. From cradle to grave, every part of a person’s life can be monitored and tracked.

The Real Beast System

While a National Identification Card is one of the most high profile fronts in the battle over privacy and government control, a larger more covert system is already in place. Massive databases have already been created saving every persons in the modern world financial, medical, employment, purchases and locations. Cell phones have already been used to track traffic conditions, fast track keeps track of every time a person goes through a toll booth, as credit cards begin to replace cash a record of purchases is stored by credit card companies and don’t even think about how much information people willingly reveal about themselves on social networking websites like Facebook. As all of the technologies spread and improve it becomes increasingly difficult to live anonymously in ones daily life.

To capitalize and network all of the information that has been collected on people and stored in various databases DARPA created the Total Information Awareness program in January 2002. The head of the program was the trustworthy Admiral John Poindexter, who in 1990 was convicted of multiple felonies for his involvement in the Iran Contra Affair (the felonies were later overturned due to an immunity clause relating to his testimony). The purpose of Total Information Awareness was to track every aspect of citizen’s lives and make a profile based on their activities to “protect” America from terrorists. To achieve its stated goal; TIA would use credit card information, emails, phone calls, social networking, surveillance cameras and any other source of information it could find creating a massive web were nothing could escape its eyes. As it turned out, the American public wasn’t ready for the Total Information Awareness program and after a massive public outcry, congress was forced to revoke the program’s funding in 2003.

Even though one head of the surveillance hydra had been removed others, like the NSA wiretaps and Echelon, still remain. Microsoft has admitted to letting the NSA help them develop their popular Windows operating system; leaving the question of how much private information is accessible to government eyes. Google has also come forward stating that it has plans to use the microphones on computers and webcams to monitor how people surf the internet and to direct advertising to each specific person related to their surfing. Google has worked with the intelligence agencies to help organize their databases as well. In Greek mythology, a hydra grows two heads for each one that is cut off and modern surveillance programs seem to do the same. Has the head of the Total Information Awareness program regrown under a different more secretive name? We may never know but judging from the support of all the other surveillance programs its spirit is still alive and well.

The combination of a National ID card and the programs which we already have in place paints the picture of a dark and uncertain future. The information gathered in all of the secret databases could very well control the food you buy in the name of protecting your health, your ability to keep and bear arms since you could be labeled a domestic terrorist for your political beliefs or select what kind of work you do. The one thing that is certain, if all the puzzle pieces come together, freedom of choice will be a thing of the past.

This leaves us all with the question: How do we stop the government from infringing and controlling our lives? While it is true that without the systems and databases we are all a part of modern life wouldn’t be possible, we can however step in to curtail the abuses of them. One of the easiest ways is to get involved and write a letter to your congressmen and senators telling them that you won’t stand for a National ID Card or massive government databases. Another is to support organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation who expose the misuse of public information and technology by government. Hold government officials accountable when they promise transparency and don’t deliver. Remember, never to let a slick politician trick you into signing over your way of life into their hands when they promise a quick fix to society’s ailments. The end isn’t near and there’s no reason not to fight the evils of big government.