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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 raffe (28595) * on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:12AM (#22319668) Journal
    I am not American but I wonder why you have such problems with personal identity numbers [wikipedia.org]. Here in Sweden we had them since 1947 and we all have ID cards with this number, name, address and a picture. Its really an easy way to identify yourself. All organizations also have an identity number.
  • by overshoot (39700) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:13AM (#22319672)
    Thought Experiment:
    What happens if I'm summoned to a Federal Court appearance and don't have the required ID? Do I:
    • Get a pass because a Federal Judge trumps an ID requirement?
    • Get a pass from the Court because I can't be compelled to do something illegal?
    • Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not collect any sympathy?
  • by Heian-794 (834234) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:14AM (#22319682) Homepage
    "requiring citizens to produce federally compliant identification before purchasing some over-the-counter medicines "

    That would give non-citizens more rights than citizens, since they can hardly make it illegal for resident aliens to buy medicine. Or will they be forced to show green cards or the like? What nonsense.

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:26AM (#22319740) Homepage Journal
    I believe your passport already applies to the realid standards. I think the concern is, and I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, that America is moving towards requiring Federally mandated and controlled id - period.
     
    On a slightly related note, I've been going through a ton of crap recently trying to find out if my passport is valid. I accidentally washed it and I don't know if the RFID chip inside is still functional. Externally it looks brand new. I didn't want to be traveling and have that be a problem, but a new passport would be more money than I want to spend right now - and I just paid for this one.
     
    It's a catch-22 thing. The readers to check if the chip is functional are at my local airport. The airport customs people wont let me in unless I'm traveling. I went round and round with people on the phone about this, and was finally told by a customs official - "We see tons of passports where the chip is not functional, don't worry about it."
     
    When I go to Mexico next month I guess I'll find out for sure. But it is funny - all the extra cost of this chip - the extra security concerns and apparently it is irrelevant anyway.
  • by Panaqqa (927615) * on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:50AM (#22319926) Homepage
    I'm interested in the implications for non-citizens myself, and I don't mean resident aliens, as I don't reside in the USA. I mean visitors. I travel to America on business or leisure quite frequently, and while I don't often have to visit a federal building it is not completely unknown. And the visitor information centre mentioned in the article is something I might want to visit.

    So - how do they handle me as a Canadian citizen and a visitor? There is no way I will have REAL ID, and I would prefer not to have to carry my passport everywhere I go (for obvious reasons). My guess is that the ID requirement could not really be applied to non citizens, which raises the interesting spectre of a non citizen having more rights than an American citizen from any of several states. Or perhaps the ID requirement WILL be enforced against non citizens, in which case just watch as your tourism industry evaporates almost overnight. Visitors HATE people in authority demanding "PAPERS!"

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

    by azuredrake (1069906) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:53AM (#22319950)
    I do, of course, realize that our government and legislation is highly based on precedent. If the legislature has previously passed a bill similar to a newly proposed one, it is much easier to pass.

    And yes, I am a political scientist.

    I did not say that everything from DHS is bad. I said that this is from DHS, and that this is bad. I actually did not mean to imply that all DHS work is bad. The point is that if there is a charge for getting a RealID, which there will be, and if the RealID is required to get a job, for instance, then people who are poor will suffer even more than they do now.
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:54AM (#22319962) Homepage Journal
    Most people would consider me a liberal, although exactly how liberal depends on the current position of the pendulum. Yet it seems to me that the strongest argument for conservatism has always been this: you can't get everything you want. Yes, we'd all like the poor to have access to health care and top notch education, but if we throw money at those problems we reduce entrepreneurial incentive (or sometimes even worse: refocus it on capturing windfalls) needed to grow the economy and provide access to wealth for all.

    Here we see a flip side of this argument: we'd all like to be perfectly safe, but at some point you buy the next increment of safety at the cost of something else. Are we really safer if we have a government functionary peering into all kinds of aspects of our private lives? Is Republican Party conservatism just the choice of an alternative form of government paternalism?

    This kind of thing is what conservatives (and liberals) ought to be on the lookout for.

    Conservatives for years have railed against the idea of a government ID ("papers, please"). Personally, I don't have a problem with a standard government issued ID, but I do understand what they're getting at. It's about the indignity of some unaccountable government flunky exerting control over your private affairs. If the growing conservative discomfort over ID standards is any measure, many conservatives have begun to realize that the government issued ID is really symbolic; it's not the ID per se, but what can be done with it.

    All things being equal, an ID that is standardized, either by being issued by a single authority or whose issuance and features are controlled by a single authority, is better than an unreliable ID. The problem is that a better ID is also convenient for illegitimate purposes. Why mandate such an ID for purchasing medicine, if other than to put medicine purchases in a federal database?

    And that's the rub. Conservatives are way behind on recognizing the coercive power of databases in government hands as they are ahead in recognizing the dangers of a national ID.
  • Re:Dear God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @09:55AM (#22319968) Journal
    Won't someone please think of the meth addicts?

    Apparently they are. And just as apparently, the US government considers drug use to be terrorism. [slashdot.org] It's the war on [next thing to extend the grasp of government power and take away your consitituional rights].

    Would someone please point to the section of the US Constitution that gives the government the power to tell me what I can put in my body? And don't give me that "interstate commerce" bunk.

    I voted for Ron Paul yesterday. I smoke pot, 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. When this country was founded, a man had the right to screw his life up any way he pleased. No more.

    Sadly, I won't be able to vote for him in the general election. If the Libertarians aren't on the ballot I'm not sure who I'll vote for, but it won't be a Republicrat*.

    -mcgrew

    *A "Republicrat" is the US' single political party. It has two wings, the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicrat Party wants the things I love outlawed. I'd like to see neckties outlawed, or mandated that anyone who wears one hangs himself with it.!
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:05AM (#22320116) Journal
    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).

    My Social Security card says, in bold capital letters just under the signature, "for social security and tax purposes - not for identification".

    But it was issued in 1968 when I was 16, back when the only thing you needed an ID for was driving a car and buying liquor.

    I've watched my freedom disappear little by little all my life. Compared to my youth, I now live in a police state [slashdot.org].

    -mcgrew
    (oblig "child's garden of grass (album)":)

    "Your paperss pleasse!"
    "Uh, I only have a pipe, man."
    "Zen you vill haff to come vith me!"
  • by The Queen (56621) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:07AM (#22320136) Homepage
    Has nothing to do with security, has everything to do with power and profit.

    It's because meth is produced by the people, for the people, unlike marijuana, smack and coke which we mostly import. The gov't can't get its share of the profits on meth the way it does on other stuff, so they are coming down harder on it. The 'War on Drugs' was never about saving us from the evils of substance abuse, you know.

    Course, that's just MHO. (And I don't know about other states, but here in Virginia you have to also sign a piece of paper in order to buy said medicine. It's ridiculous. Makes me try all that much harder not to get sick!)
  • Re:Dear God (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ddrichardson (869910) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:12AM (#22320182) Homepage

    Won't someone please think of the meth addicts?

    I don't know about that, but whoever moderated this, very obvious, joke as "insightful" is definitely smoking something.

  • by Hoplite3 (671379) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:18AM (#22320252)
    In these times, I keep thinking how we survived the cold war against an adversary that at least had a GDP that was an appreciable fraction of our own and nuclear weapons. We didn't need ID cards to make it through that.

    Now there are some mullahs in a cave halfway around the world who'd like to blow up a few buildings, and the g-men talk about how the sky is falling. We need to take drastic action to protect ourselves, they say. They're either cowards or up to something more sinister and cynical. Lately, I don't care which. I just want it to stop.
  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:33AM (#22320448)
    My Social Security card says, in bold capital letters just under the signature, "for social security and tax purposes - not for identification".

    Go get a new one. They don't say that anymore.

    I was forced to produce a SS card when I tried to get my license in NY. A fucking blue piece of cardboard printed up by a typewriter. And I shit you not, when I asked why, the ditz at the desk told me "9/11".

    Here is the ID that I did have on me at the time, all not-expired:

    Drivers License "PA"
    Military ID
    Birth Certificate
    US Passport
    Bank ID
    Work ID
    Tax return
    Home insurance
    and a freaking Concealed Weapons Permit.

    No, those were not sufficient. They needed that little blue piece of paper that previously said 'not to be used as identification'.
  • Re:I wonder... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:42AM (#22320580)
    Judging by the past and highly consistent behavior of most people, it would
    be a good strategy for anyone -- autocrat or otherwise -- to follow.

    For every slight diminution of civil liberty, there will be predictable rumblings
    and mild protests but these will quickly fade. Then a period of utter
    acceptance will ensue as the initial infraction becomes imperceptible to
    the masses. Through a repetition of this process any level of authoritarianism
    can be easily invoked and maintained.

    I am cynical. I have lost all faith.

    But I have excellent and indisputable reasons.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @10:55AM (#22320772)
    OK, two things:

    1) While there may be some Mullahs in caves halfway around the world, it has also been shown beyond doubt that there are people living among us that DO wish to cause us harm. (No, I'm not going to do the legwork for you on that one, feel free to Google it.) So the concern for the safety of ordinary Americans from Islamofascists is quite real, and trying to minimize it by painting it as a far-away issue is , I think, intellectually dishonest.

    HOWEVER

    2) I DO NOT think that the REALID is the way to fix it. As many conservatives will remind you, ALL of the 9/11 hijackers had valid and legal identification, including state driver's licenses. So simply adding another layer of bureaucracy is no way to protect us from crazy people that want to kill us. I (along with many, many conservatives) see this like the libertarians do, as just another rights-grab by a bloated Federal Government.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:28AM (#22321254) Homepage
    You mean there are some INFILTRATORS?

    Big f*cking deal. During the cold war we had the
    entire security service for a world superpower to
    worry about. We lived through 50 years of the KGB
    without any of this nonsense.

    9/11 is a big fat red herring.

    These people WERE ON WATCH LISTS. If the government
    had been any good at doing it's job with the
    information it already had and the means that it
    already had then then there would have been no attacks.

    New methods to annoy the general population are not the answer.
  • by Collegeguy (1103663) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @11:32AM (#22321342)
    Now, if I'm not mistaken, state reps to the capital (i.e. your standard senator and representative to mention a few) must be residents (and therefore have IDs) of the states they represent. And I can only assume that in the current state of things they would have to show their IDs at some point (in what form I don't know, and I don't know if they actually have to show them as I've never had the privilege of going to DC). So I would have to ask, what happens to legislators from those states that have refused to cooperate with the RealID system? Do we just start excluding them from law making decisions? Do we basically force them to secede from the union? wind up with a really screwed up civil war over something so trivial?
  • Re:Dear God (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @12:05PM (#22321822)
    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.

    Thats all good and dandy, but why is DHS involved in whether or not teens get high with OTC drugs? Shouldn't that be something the DEA or FDA handles?

    I mean... Does Homeland Security think that kids popping pills will somehow turn them into into Fundamentalist Terrorists?

    Even if there no evil intentions by DHS, this is at least very poor use of their resources.
  • by billstewart (78916) on Wednesday February 06, 2008 @02:09PM (#22323248) Journal
    I was in Hong Kong a while back, and the general advice from the tour guides was that you should only buy the silver $10 Rolexes from street vendors, not the gold ones, because the color rubs off the gold ones....

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