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Government Privacy

Russia Moves To Universal ID Card 200

Posted by timothy
from the current-white-house-will-consult dept.
prostoalex writes "On January 1st 2012, the Russian government will start issuing universal ID cards (Russian original) that will replace current national identification system (Russia has a system of internal passports), medical insurance cards, student IDs, public transport passes, and debit cards. The smart card contains unique personal identifiers and allows for multiple levels of authentication. The Russian government is pushing for local government agencies, transportation providers, banks and retail operators to adopt the government-issued ID to streamline their operations."
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Russia Moves To Universal ID Card

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  • by PaulBu (473180) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:46PM (#34885788) Homepage

    There is a PIN to use it, of course, but there is supposed to be a "decoy" PIN, so if you are forced to enter your PIN by the bad guys, it, apparently, looks like it was successful ("buys you some time") but (in theory) alerts someone and triggers police response.

    Paul B.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:49PM (#34885812) Homepage
    Is that "the narrative" these days? That the world was better off when the Soviet Union was around? Here's a summary of a book I've been reading, I picked it up at the Half Price Books near a university along with a lot of other books about Marxism (mostly Chinese, but this one was a buck so I threw it in). We all know what happens when far-right fanatics get into power, and we couldn't avoid this knowledge if we wanted to. However, what happens when the extreme left jumps in the saddle is rarely discussed in any detail, perhaps because 90% of university professors in America label themselves as being "liberal or very liberal" in their political opinions, and are generally sympathetic to the iconic figures of communism (Che, Castro, Marx, etc.) if not to communism itself. You could take a course on Nazi Germany at my undergraduate alma mater, actually several of them, but there were no courses on Stalin or the history of applied communism. Perhaps because of this sympathy, and because it failed so catastrophically everywhere it reared its ugly head, the topic is smothered in silence. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone still clinging to romantic fantasies about communism, or for that matter, any middle-class college student who thinks wearing a Che t-shirt makes an intelligent political statement.

    Viktor Suvorov (real name Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun), who grew up under communism, has never kept silent on what it was like to live in a society operating under Marxist-Leninist philosophy. He was a former member of the Soviet GRU who later defected to Britain during the height of the cold war. Suvorov revels in exposing the Soviet leviathan as lumbering, corrupt, unspeakably cruel and yet almost comically inefficient - a year's supply of anti-magnetic paint is used up whitewashing rocks because an admiral wants an improved-looking coastline; thousands of tons of chemical fertilizer are dumped into the Volga River (creating an environmental catastrophe) because the Party didn't make adequate preparations to store it; military exercises are run which leave the country defenseless; soldiers are sentenced to barbarous punishments for the slightest infractions; generals keep private harems and use military resources to construct fabulous dachas; incompetent drunks are promoted to important posts simply to get rid of them. Nothing works, the bureacracy is suffocating, one has to bribe officials to get them to do their jobs and secret police stooges are everywhere, ignoring corruption and crime but mercilessly punishing political unorthodoxy. By the time Suvorov was a young lieutenant, he understood the Soviet habit of substituting the word "hell" with "communism." So you can imagine his feelings when, in the summer of '68, the Soviet army was sent to Czechoslovakia to crush the burgeoning democratic movement there. Expecting to be greeted as liberators, the naive Soviets were pelted with eggs, rocks and rotten tomatoes, cursed roundly and told to stop doing to Eastern Europe what they had done to their own country. That, and seeing how much better off Czechoslovakia was than Russia, was so psychologically devastating to the liberators that the Soviet government sent most of them to the Chinese frontier for the rest of their military service, lest they start asking too many unfortunate questions. The Liberators is a half-tragic, half-comic book, one which shows the amusing and yet painful coming-to-consciousness of a young man who wakes up one day to discover that he is not a liberator but an inmate - and his country a prison. 200 pages. A must read for everyone.

  • by jedrek (79264) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:12PM (#34885984) Homepage

    To be honest, there is no country that I know of where identity theft is a problem as big as it is in the US. I have a national ID card here in Poland, and you know what? It's a HUGE bitch to fake, I suspect it would be easier to steal my identity by faking my passport and driver's license. That still wouldn't do you much good, since I could have any of those three documents invalidated - when you sign any sort of contract here, you put down both your ID/Tax number and your ID number. The corporate equivalent of identity theft is much more prevalent over here.

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:06PM (#34886278)

    A little more depth. There is a talk about deprecating internal passports and replacing them with ID cards, however as far as I understand this card will not yet be the national ID card.

    I'm reading specifications for this card, and so far it seems that government is just mandating a single standard for micropayments and ID transmission info. Which certainly makes sense (I hate buying subway passes every time I visit Moscow).

    Internal passports are interesting in themselves. They were first invented during the USSR era as means of migration control. In order to get a job each citizen of the USSR had to have a local registration ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propiska [wikipedia.org] ), it's a stamp on a passport page. And to get a propiska one had to have a local job - a nice Catch-22 scenario. And living without registration in the USSR was actually a crime that could get you behind the bars. With the fall of the USSR, both of the requirements for propiska were lifted, even though the requirement for the mandatory local registration remained in place (though now punishment for living without the local registration is trivial, about $15, AFAIR).

    But local registration has been transformed from a barrier into a bureaucratic nuisance (or hell). It's now a classical Brazilia situation - state can't nominally refuse you to register, but it can make it thoroughly unpleasant.

    The proposed ID card will _finally_ kill off the propiska for good. As a citizen of Russia, for me it's much much much better than nebulous additional threats to privacy.

  • by Atmchicago (555403) on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:21PM (#34886360) Homepage

    Plenty of people have studied it. The rough answer is that 40% of Russians are much much better off, and 60% of Russians are worse off financially. Overall, this amounts to a net gain, but it isn't evenly spread. Crime is higher today than it was in the Soviet Union. There is more freedom of speech today than there was before. You don't have to look very hard to find these numbers - don't take my word for it, do the research.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday January 14, 2011 @11:21PM (#34886652) Journal

    Russian mob doesn't need to forge documents, mate. They're the guys in power!

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