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DHS Official Suggests REAL ID Mission Creep 277

Posted by kdawson
from the just-say-no dept.
The Register noticed that a senior US Department of Homeland Security official has floated the idea of requiring citizens to produce federally compliant identification before purchasing some over-the-counter medicines — specifically, pseudophedrine. The federal ID standard spelled out by the REAL ID act has been sold as applying only to air travel and entry to federal buildings and nuclear facilities. A blogger on the Center for Democracy and Technology site said, "[The] suggested mission creep pushes the REAL ID program farther down the slippery slope toward a true national ID card." Speaking of federal buildings, CNet has a state-by-state enumeration of what will happen on May 11, when REAL ID comes into effect, to citizens who attempt to enter, say, the Washington DC visitors bureau.
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DHS Official Suggests REAL ID Mission Creep

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  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:10AM (#22319656) Homepage
    Since I've spent years outside the U.S., I don't have a driver's license. When I return to the U.S., I use my passport as identification to purchase alcohol or travel long distances. If people are concerned about Real ID posing massive privacy issues, why haven't people like me using our passports faced this yet?
  • I wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by azuredrake (1069906) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:10AM (#22319660)
    I wonder if the DHS consciously constructs slippery slopes and has timelines drawn up for when to feed what to the American people, or if they're just really good at accidentally destroying our civil liberties...
  • by bhima (46039) * <Bhima.PandavaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:22AM (#22319724) Journal
    I've maintained 2 driver's licenses for years because of troubles using passports as an ID and using my non-US driver's license in the US. One policeman in Tennessee detained me for using a "fake license" in 2001.

    As a side benefit my personal data in databases within the US is extremely inconsistent. As I'll use any convenient address or data when I fill out whatever form I'm using. I do the same thing with the bank accounts I maintain within the US.

    Having said all of that in my opinion the majority of US government is grossly incompetent and they have no business having access to my personal data. Just because I haven't figured out some cataclysmically stupid and devastating thing to do with my own personal data does not mean that some ass in government can't come with something (which would invariably be worse).

    If they spent all this time & money understanding what about American society creates many addicts we'd be done already. Limiting purchases of cold medicine is just drug war theater
  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:26AM (#22319736) Journal
    Well here's the thing.

    Just about everyone in the US has at least two government issued IDs: A driver's license (state issued) and a social security card (federally issued). Social security cards do not have a photo. For those that do not have a driver's license, a passport is also acceptable (as someone already mentioned) as photo ID.

    There are two reasons why no rational person likes the Real ID Act. First, a minor point, is that we already have the above ID options and they work just fine. Second, and more important, there is currently no massive federally-controlled database containing ALL of the information in one spot. Given the government's track record of ineptitude and maleficence - especially in the past eight years - the last thing a sane person wants is to put all of the nation's personal information into the exclusive hands of a single government entity.

    In short, it's both redundant and dangerous for our liberty. Of course all the chicken-littles will cry that we need it for security but even they know deep inside that's a load of shit.
    =Smidge=
  • Homeland security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unbug (1188963) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:37AM (#22319820)
    What exactly does pseudophedrine have to do with homeland security? Why do those DHS guys even think about it at all?
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:39AM (#22319830) Homepage
    States' powers make little sense when people nowadays regularly grow up in one state, move to another to study, move to another to work, and perhaps move to another to retire. Furthermore, due to national broadcasting, the cultural differences among the states are significantly less than they once were. The U.S. is no longer a band of 13 competitive colonies who had to be pushed into staying in a union. It's a coherent whole, and we might as well reflect that in government.
  • Re:Dear God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:40AM (#22319848) Homepage Journal
    [slashdot.org]

    The whole pseudoephedrine thing is not about the meth addicts. Sure, that's the excuse they used, but the real reason for the provision for requiring ID on pseudoephedrine and limiting the quantity for purchase of these drugs in the so-called 'Stop Meth Act' is to prevent people from using them as a sort of 'speed lite'. Teenagers were found to be using them as 'pep' pills and 'smart' pills (because pseudoephedrine is a stimulate that's quite a bit stronger than caffeine) and so the purpose was really to keep people from buying them and using them for that purpose.

    You can either buy the party line or examine the evidence yourself: the truth is that purchasing pseudoephedrine-containing drugs in certain combinations, such as with guafenesin, does not require ID and does not have any purchase limit. Making meth from psuedoephededrine+guafenesin is not much more difficult than making it from any other pseudoephedrine-containing drug. However, the pseudoephedrine+guafenesin combination cannot be used as a 'pep' or a 'smart' drug, because the guafenesin will make you sick if you take it in too high of a dose.

    This can all be verified with a simple Google search.

    Think for yourselves, people. Please. For all that is good in this world, please starting thinking for yourselves.
  • Re:Dear God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alexpkeaton1010 (1101915) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:57AM (#22319994)
    Or the parent could calm down and let the grandparent make a joke without wanting them to research how exactly to make Meth.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:04AM (#22320100)
    Though some claim it to be a logical fallacy, there is some instances in the past where a change (for the better) has lead to other changes (for the better).

    Example, voting rights. Men -> other races -> Women -> All citizens 18+ (I think I have the general order correct)

    Though in situations such as these it's not really a slope being slipped down, but rather a peak being climbed to. However, and this is why I use it as an example, each time somebody proposed opening up voting to more people there were a fair share of critics trying to argue why it would be wrong or dangerous.

    To sum it up quickly: The slippery slope may not always be the best logic to use, but there are plenty of historical examples of where one change/event/decision directly set precident to the next.

    You yourself are using somewhat faulty logic by employing such an absurd/extreme Scenario B.
  • Re:I wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johannesg (664142) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:13AM (#22320204)
    The slippery slope is not at all a logical fallacy. There is no implication that step (1) will necessarily lead to step (2), just the observation that step (1) will make it easier to sell step (2) at a later date because the perceived cost of either steps (1) or (2) is below the protest threshold, while presumably the total cost of steps (1) and (2) together is considered too large to stomach by many.

    To place this in context, once there is a national ID card it will be easier to add more and more functions over time. However, would you accept it if you were told that you will need to show this card to conduct any financial transactions, own a gun, travel beyond 30km from your house, or exercise your right to free speech? to name just some possibilities...

    The slippery slope is not that these things are somehow implied to the introduction of national ID, but they are clearly made easier by it, and some people may already be planning the introduction of further measures along the lines I have suggested.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:15AM (#22320234) Homepage

    And in record time for a federal agency. I think its creation was a mistake and its continued existence a money-sucking waste of resources. Instead of focusing on terrorism they've started to put their greasy fingers into all kinds of areas not related to what's supposed to be their core mission.

    Unless someone can relate cold medicine and terrorism. If we've got this terrorism thing whipped that DHS has so much time on their hands, then scale back their budget.

    We have the FBI for domestic terrorism, the CIA for overseas operations...they were getting the job done before 9-11. Just as a reminder, the problem wasn't that we didn't know about the terrorists before 9-11, the problem was we didn't act on what we knew. And we knew without massive, illegal wiretapping of Americans, without the Patriot Act, without waterboarding, secret prisons, GITMO and all the other retarded things we've done out of fear since then.

  • Re:I wonder... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eggnoglatte (1047660) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:20AM (#22320286)
    You introduced a fictional character ino an otherwise rational discussion. How is that fixing anything?
  • Re:I wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:25AM (#22320342)
    The slippery slope is not a universal logical fallacy. When applied to political agendas it is often a valid arguement. Incremental steps are used all the time by interest groups to get their way in the end.

    The problem is that people are calling the slippery slope argument a logical fallacy based on its context as a mathematical/scientific proof.

    But it is a common practice (for good or ill) to try and reach a goal through incremental steps. Many see medical marijuana as a step to reaching the full legalization of the drug. When slavery was banned in the UK, it didn't happen overnight, it took a lot of little steps and pressures (like attacking the profits of the slave traders rather than the slave trade).

    But it also works in the other direction. Maybe not a slippery slope, but a stepladder to tyrrany. Just because the term is associated with a mathematical logical fallacy, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. The behaviour of human beings doesn't mean they will recognize that they are 'falling' for a logical fallacy.
  • by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:29AM (#22320396) Journal

    I think it would take an unsympathetic view to your not providing your own identification, proper identification of course...

    There's an important distinction, however, between not having (or forgetting to bring) a driver's license or other photo ID to the courthouse, and having a perfectly valid state ID from a state that has decided not to comply with REAL ID. The individual citizen should not be penalized because he or she doesn't have access to the appropriate identification.

    And, no, getting a federally-issued passport is not a solution for everyone. Only 30% of Americans have a passport (according to the Wired article in the summary). A passport's sole purpose is to allow someone to travel outside of the country - it shouldn't be a requirement to do anything within the country. It costs $100 and takes 6 weeks to get one. There should be no minimum barrier for someone to be able to petition to government in court, and certainly not a minimum barrier for someone to defend themselves in court. It's right up there with a poll tax, which has time and again been ruled unconstitutional.
  • by conlaw (983784) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:38AM (#22320514)

    Having said all of that in my opinion the majority of US government is grossly incompetent and they have no business having access to my personal data.

    I think they have already screwed it up. According to the current head of DHS, as quoted on CNN, http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9771953-7.html [news.com]

    [I}mproved quality will come about, in part, because motor vehicle administrators will be required to link into databases to verify the legitimacy of the underlying identification documents, such as birth certificates, that Americans submit when they apply for Real ID-compliant cards.

    Great, that means you now have to pick someone living to impersonate by use of a birth certificate. But if I can present the birth certificate of someone roughly my age who is still alive according the database (presumably still a state function), how does that verify anything? Or am I going to have to take of my shoes so that they can compare my footprint with the one they took in the hospital many years ago?

  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:42AM (#22320576) Homepage Journal

    Also, please do not confuse "conservatives" with "republicans". Bush Republicanism is the unholy alliance between conservatives and evangelicals.


    Notice I used the term "Republican Conservatism"; I am quite aware that traditional conservatives have major issues with the party.

    Personally, I don't think states are inherently more trustworthy than any other level of government. In some cases, such as California, they are large enough to be their own countries. In other cases (I won't name names for professional reasons but I've seen it with my own eyes) they are thoroughly corrupt. "States Rights" only makes sense if somehow you identify yourself with the government of the state you live in. I prefer individual rights, asserted against any level of government, or even private agents.
  • Re:Dear God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:12AM (#22320980) Homepage Journal
    Oh, I think you can look at my posting record and see that I'm not in favor of government control. I'm just calling out government lies where I see them. The point is, if they're going to lie about this, what else are they going to lie to you about? REAL ID, for sure.

    You can't trust the government.
  • Fun with Extremes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:19AM (#22321086)

    you would have to be a damned fool would vote for someone who would condone laws that would put you in prison for something you enjoy.
    I enjoy being wealthy, and as such get a thrill from taking people's wallets and emptying their contents into my own pockets. I also enjoy kicking puppies, punching kittens, and going the wrong way down one-way streets(it's a thrill few have the stomach to endure).

    Will Ron Paul allow me to do that? Or is he such an uptight totalitarian that'd he'd throw me in prison the first time I punt a poodle?
  • Not a fallacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tony (765) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:27AM (#22321228) Journal
    A "logical fallacy" is one which is false. That is, and *instance* of the slippery-slope argument might be fallacious, but the slippery-slope technique in general is not fallacious.

    What I infer from what you say is that the slippery-slope argument is not fallacious, but insufficient. And on that, I agree. Simply invoking the slippery-slope is not good enough. You'll have to back it up.

    In this case of the Real ID, we've already seen the "slippery-slope" happening. It's not only logical that it will slide down that slope, but inevitable. The question is not "if," it's "when." With the DHS grasping for more power, that time seems now.
  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:41AM (#22321472) Journal
    If people are concerned about Real ID posing massive privacy issues, why haven't people like me using our passports faced this yet?

    Because you fall into an EXTREME minority of people using a passport for such purposes - All the passport-tracking infrastructure currently in place exists to track entry and exit from the country at its borders (and various major points-of-entry, ie, airports).


    If you want an example of the sort of abuses RealID will lead to, you need look no further than EZPass (or TransPass or whatever they call it) in New Jersey (and several other states). "No, no, we'll never give out your travel details!" - Then bam, ten years later, the states want to use those record to retroactively impose speeding fines, divorce cases regularly subpoena their records, and in at least one case, police used an EZPass dump to "justify" randomly harassing hundreds of innocent people who happened to use the wrong highway at the wrong time.



    We tinfoil-types don't (only) fear what could happen, we fear what already happens when you hand similar tools to those in power.
  • Re:Dear God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @02:43PM (#22323634) Homepage Journal
    "Spoken like a true hedonist. "If I derive pleasure out of it, then it can't be wrong." I'm sure there are plenty of sexual deviants (molesters, rapists, etc.) and hate-crime perpetrators who would agree with you on this one."

    Erroneous comparison. He was talking about sitting at home, and getting a bit stoned on pot. Nothing more 'dangerous' to you or society than anything else that is currently legal like alcohol. In fact, it could be argued that pot users are less dangerous that boozers...they rarely get violent which is often a problem with many with alcohol usage.

    You are mentioning acts which by definition harm others (molester, rapist), the comparison is not even in the same ball park. Hate crime? When did we get that in the US?? Crime is crime...if you kill someone, they are dead, no matter the reason. You think it is worse if it is due to racial or sexual reasons? No, murder is a crime...period. It isn't made any worse due to the reason. And it is already against the law, we don't need more laws against murder....

  • by billstewart (78916) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @03:05PM (#22323966) Journal
    I object because I used to work for a guy with a number tattooed on his arm.


    Here in the US, people believe that we're free and the government works for us - we're not owned by some government. Britain's a bit different, having a tradition of feudalism (we has a revolution against ours, while they mostly outgrew theirs), but they still also believe in individual freedom as a fundamental value. We both know it doesn't really work that way any more, and don't like it, and that really annoys us. Our countries also both have a history of slavery, and we know how owners treat property, though we didn't use ID cards for slaves back then.


    South African friends of mine also had ID cards, but they could travel freely around their country because they were obviously white, while blacks and coloreds had to show their passes prove that they were going somewhere the white people wanted them. If you need a pass to travel around your country, you're obviously not one of the white owners, and if you want other people to have passes to travel around, you're saying you *are* one of the white owners.


    Organizations assign you numbers and ID cards because they want to keep track of you and make you ask their permission to do things, and because they don't trust you. I don't mind if my bank does that - they're keeping my money, and I don't want them to let other people take it. But when a government says I need to get their permission to go somewhere, that's morally unacceptable - freedom to travel is a fundamental human right - and they're able to enforce it because they've got a bunch of guns and can shoot anybody who doesn't obey. I don't mind if the government uses numbers as database indexes to keep track of appropriate things; I'm not the only person in my town with my name. But if they're keeping track of things that are none of their business, that's wrong. And ID cards mean that they can keep all those records together, which is dangerous and inappropriate.


    I've been really surprised that Europeans are tolerant of ID cards, not only given the recent unpleasantness that had just happened when you Swedes got yours, but also given the history of the 1700s-1800s, with monarchies, czars, secret police, and that sort of abuse from traditional governments and their replacements.

  • Re:I wonder... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @03:21PM (#22324172) Homepage

    You're attempting to apply logic to an organization (the U.S. government) that applies fallacy at least as often as logic to legislation.

    This leads to a sort of meta-logic where one must not only consider the reasonability of the proposal under discussion but also the effects down the road. A great many freedom abusing proposals are ALREADY waiting for the real-id to happen (TFA demonstrates that DHS can't even manage to wait that long). Thus, I may reasonably argue that real-id opens the door to a legislative crapflood and that the probable risk of some portion of that crapflood being passed in yet another "children should be allowed to laugh, everyone should have food and (PS) the TSA should anally probe everyone up to their tonsils" bill outweighs any potential benefit.

    Slippery slope is a conditional fallacy. That is, arguments in it's form are frequently fallacies but not necessarily. Sometimes the slope really is slippery and if that can be demonstrated then the argument is not fallacious. In this case, TFA demonstrates that the slope around real ID is indeed slippery. When the law was passed, there was discussion of the slippery slope and those claiming it would be carefully confined to a few uses won the day. Now, with the law not even in effect yet, the proposals to expand its use are already in play.

    Likewise, an ad hominem attack is also a logical fallacy. Just because it comes from DHS does mot mean it's a bad idea.

    It does not PROVE that it's a bad idea. It does SUGGEST additional caution.

  • Re:I wonder... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SlashWombat (1227578) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @03:25PM (#22324226)
    Nazi Germany comes to mind when I think about "personal licenses". Even "home security" sounds like it is from the same era! From my perspective, the USA is not at the top of the slippery slope, it is already half way down it. Consider the plethora of government agencies that "protect" the constitution. Some of these agencies use techniques of "data retrieval" that would have made the Geheime Staatspolizei envious. *(Just compare waterboarding, monitoring of all communications, the size of the military ...) So, don't be surprised when you start hearing "Papers please" on a very regular basis.

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