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The devil is in the details

This is a page from the original version of Pagan Vigil. There are some formatting differences.

Originally published at www.paganvigil.com/C1163190915/E1407607449

The devil is in the details


The delayed examination of why Real ID threatens freedom

The more I read about the proposed Real ID program, the less I like it.

What it comes down to is that the government wants you to trade your privacy for the the promise of protection that a centrally managed security database can give.

My first problem is the assumption that the details of your life are somehow trumped by national security concerns. This database will track you, everything from the flights you took to the last time you gassed up your car to the fifty pounds of fertilizer you bought last week for your garden. It ALL goes into the data base.

It's easy to see how this can be abused, look no further than the War on Drugs and the tactics used there. At one point, the DEA was going after garden supply stores because the stores weren't providing sales records on people who bought growlights and supplies for indoor gardening. Of course, that old canard about "why worry if you have nothing to hide" was trotted out.

Once the system exists, it can be perverted to any use. If you have done anything questionable, or even if a policeman or agent has a beef with you or something you have done, your records will be flagged and your freedom will be curtailed. It doesn't matter if it is a mistake or if you prove you are innocent. As anyone who has had tangles with the IRS can tell you, it's almost impossible to "clear your name." If you manage to get your record cleared one place, it can trigger "inquires" elsewhere. Just as mistakes with the DEA, INS, and FDA have triggered IRS investigations. Once in the "system," it assumes you are guilty without overwhelming and uncontested proof that you are innocent.

My second concern is system security. Let's face it, these central databases are not known for being secure. Even if one part of the system is secure, it only takes one hole to reveal all the details of your life. Or to put it another way, even if your credit card information was totally secure, once everything is connected, there is nothing that can stop your credit card number and personal info from being sold by anyone plugged into the system.

My third concern is that it removes your choice to limit who has access to your information. Up until there is a crime or the investigation of a crime, there is absolutely no need for anyone to have access to your information. And yes, I am familiar with the current banking laws and how much information is already reported to the government without your consent.

My fourth concern is assumption that one huge centrally managed database is somehow more secure and preferable to many smaller databases competing for your business.

My fifth concern is that the technology is not complete, and it is being left in the hands of two companies, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Think about that for just a second. Microsoft. Security. Don't you see a problem there? Do you remember all the problems with Microsoft's .NET program a few years back? This is where a government sanctioned monopoly comes in. Why go through all the bother of convincing people to buy your product if you can just get the laws changed so everyone HAS to use it, even if it doesn't work?

My sixth concern is simple, but it really trumps all the others. How will this protect people MORE than the current systems? And no, making it easier for police agencies doesn't count.

Posted: Mon - May 30, 2005 at 08:02 AM 

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