Saturday, May 1, 2010

National ID Cards

The experts seem to agree that there is no real security in biometric ID cards. Storing the biometric data on a central computer (not on the card itself) would offer more security, but would still be possible to spoof. And would be a huge privacy nightmare.

And the more faith we put in these cards, the less suspicious we become of their authenticity. Some experts say that this is actually a liability. For example, a Social Security card printed on paper is trivially easy to forge, so it requires other forms of ID to confirm the user's identity. But a biometric card would be a "get out of jail free!" card, could not be questioned, paradoxically making it much more valuable for forgers.

And a card can always be stolen and used by a person who resembles the card-holder.

You may remember the case of the Mexican citizen who was recently executed in Texas. Mexico complained that he should have been informed that he was entitled to contact the Mexican Consulate at the time of his arrest. Fine.

But now some of the same people are saying that American police must'n't dare ask arrestees about their nationality or visa status.

Well, you can't have it both ways.

According to an op-ed in the NYT, there has been a federal law in place since 1940 that requires foreign visitors to the U.S. to keep their documents with them at all times and produce them when asked. If a police officer asks for ID, a pedestrian in America can answer, "Sorry, but I'm a citizen!" and that, presumably, ends the interview; without probable cause, the officer can't press the matter. But a driver does have a legal obligation to produce a driver's license. And traffic cops have lots of tricks for spotting fake ID's - did you know that your place of birth (the state, anyway) is encoded into your Social Security number? That's why traffic cops frequently ask motorists, "Where were you born?" - if the answer doesn't match the SSN, the ID may be a little hinky.

Mark my words, if something isn't done, ten years from now, in the next Census, the Census-takers will all be carrying fingerprint machines, to fingerprint all 300-plus million of us.

6 comments:

D.W. Drang said...

it is also ag'in the law to use a Social Security Card or Number as ID--is your SSN on your DL? Mine isn't...

But, yes, the Arizona Immigration Law, as originally written and recently amended, simply says that Arizona will enforce the Federal Laws that the Federal Government is simply too busy, or lazy, or corrupt, to enforce. And, considering the way Mexico treats illegals there, they have no room to talk. (I did love the headlines that read things like "Arizona Make it Against The Law To Be An Illegal Immigrant!" LOL, wut?)

Old NFO said...

Agree with DW... sigh...

Turk Turon said...

I took my SSN off my Virginia D/L in 1985.

Crucis said...

My SSN isn't on my DL. Neither is my wife's on hers. I do have to enter it for filing for unemployment each week.

phlegmfatale said...

I have to ask customers at my company for SSN probably 10 or 15 times a day on the phone at work[a job NOT at all relevent to Social Security]. I've been baffled that in the 10 months I've been on the phone, only one person has balked at identifying himself in that way. I've been disappointed, frankly. Crap.

Is there any fight left in us at all? People obviously don't know the laws about that, and I always thought it was illegal to use it for any purpose other than Social Security. Now there's a federal mandate-- CMS Mandate S111-- which dictates that by 2011, every healthcare provider, insurer, pharmacy-- anyone remotely connected with healthcare in this country-- has to have the social security number on file of the person or they can not render care/medicine/insurance, etc to that individual. I think we'd be better off if we could go back to a barter system. This gives me the willies.

"Hey doc-- if you set little Timmy's broken leg, I'll mow your yard all summer," or somesuch.

GunGeek said...

Technically, the "coding" of your SSN is not based on your state of birth, but the state in which you lived when you got your number. These days (what with folks wanting that tax deduction and all) it is usually the same state, but certainly not always.

It's simply a case of the first three digits being assigned to specific states. You can find the chart very easily that will tell you which states get which prefixes.

Of course, as has been pointed out, your SSN isn't on your driver's license any more anyway.