Privacy Update: Totalitarianism 3, Freedom 0


Real ID is taking a bit of a hit from the states right now. According to the NY Times, “the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators issued a report saying that the states have not been given the time or money to comply with the law and that they need at least another eight years.”

They say the law “” which requires states to use sources like birth certificates and national immigration databases to verify that people applying for or renewing driver’s licenses are American citizens or legal residents “” will be too expensive and difficult to put in place by the May 2008 deadline. Another issue is the privacy impact of the requirement that states share, through databases, the personal information needed for a driver’s license.

Another issue? Privacy should be the only issue, but it seems that states are milking this for more government cheese. My case-in-point:

“It’s absolutely absurd,” said Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, chairman of the National Governors Association, which takes a stand on issues only when it has a broad consensus. “The time frame is unrealistic; the lack of funding is inexcusable.”

It gets worse. Republican Senators Jeff Session and Arlen Specter seem to be tackling the immigration issue by proposing that we plant RFID chips in foreign workers. From Homeland Stupidity:

So, it appeared, proposed Colombian president Alfaro Uribe, according to Sen. Arlen Specter, (R-Pa.) who said in a speech before Congress (PDF) that “President Uribe said he would consider having Colombian workers have microchips implanted into their bodies before they are permitted to enter the United States to work on a seasonal basis.”
And if you think that’s going to work, consider what Specter thought of the idea. “I doubted whether the implantation of microchips would be effective since the immigrant worker might be able to remove them,” he said.

Michael Hampton’s take:

Yeah, those RFID chips will make it much easier to get a transporter lock on all the immigrants and deport them all at once.

And it gets even worse than this. As adults seem to be resisitant to having the “Mark of the Beast” implanted in them, they are starting the propaganda drive with our school children. From Spychips:

A California public school teacher recently sent us this NY Times “Daily Lesson Plan” designed to “educate” kids about the benefits of tracking people and things with RFID.
Since adults are pretty unconvincable on RFID (consistently, around 65% oppose RFID on privacy grounds) the spin-meisters have begun targeting our kids, instead. This reminded me of something Liz and I wrote in Spychips.
The “Nightmare Scenario” chapter opens with RFID godfather Kevin Ashton discussing predator and prey relationships, explaining how RFID helps the lions better identify, capture, and eat the zebras. I transcribed a section of a video where someone in a crowd of business executives asks Ashton what it’s going to take for society to accept RFID and ubiquitous tracking.

Perhaps we should start implanting RFID chips in our congress critters so we can tell when and where they are spending our money on prostitutes, but let’s leave the children out of it.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: Wired has a great article showing how easy it it for criminals to exploit the relatively weak security of RFID (via Boing Boing):

“I just need to bump into James and get my hand within a few inches of him,” Westhues says. We’re shivering in the early spring air outside the offices of Sandstorm, the Internet security company Van Bokkelen runs north of Boston. As Van Bokkelen approaches from the parking lot, Westhues brushes past him. A coil of copper wire flashes briefly in Westhues’ palm, then disappears.

Sure, it may be just cloning electronic door keys now, but the implications of how easy it is to clone actual identities are staggering if we ever get RFID passports.