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Registered Traveler ID Initiative 250

Broadcatch writes "At the coming CardTech/SecurTech in Washington D.C. the Transportation Security Administration will make their first public announcement of the Registered Traveler ID Initiative . Seems they haven't gotten the word that ID cards are a bad idea."
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Registered Traveler ID Initiative

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  • by Kevin Burtch ( 13372 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:07PM (#4686099)
    These politicians trying to push this through are
    just playing on the fears of the people who really
    have no idea what happened on 9/11!

    They KNEW exactly who was getting on these planes!
    Not one of the terrorists used a fake identity or alias!
    All of them were suspected terrorists, and they all
    used their own identity.

    The government is just trying to shift the blame
    away from themselves for failure to actually block
    these terrorists from boarding the planes ALL AT

    Same goes for the cameras with the face-recognition
    software... they're POINTLESS, except they allow
    the US government to track it's own citizens!
    • The argument is necesarially that these measures would have prevented past terrorist attacks, but tht it might help prevent future ones. It doesn't get to the root problem of what happened on September 11th (there's a lot of people who really really really really really hates us), but that wouldn't be a reason to not do this.

      Of course, the more security you put in place, the more secretive nefarious people will try to be. I wonder if it's more likely to catch a terrorist who knows there's extreme security so they're very delibrate in their actions and extremely careful, versus catching a terrorist who thinks there is minimal security so is less likely to be so secretive and careful.

      • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:44PM (#4686285) Journal

        I wonder if it's more likely to catch a terrorist who knows there's extreme security so they're very delibrate in their actions and extremely careful, versus catching a terrorist who thinks there is minimal security so is less likely to be so secretive and careful.

        "We're sorry folks, this has been a honeypot flight. You're not actually at your expected destination. Please schedule a new flight at the front desk."

      • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @04:05PM (#4686746)
        might help

        Right. Where liberty and the propensity for government abuse are concerned (the U.S. has a very rich history of such abuse), might help doesn't cut it.

        What the average American doesn't realize is that of all the alleged terrorist attacks that have been thwarted, none of these efforts relied on any of the proposed technology, the newly-created Office of Information Awareness (to be headed up by a convicted felon, no less), nor did it rely on the abrogation of liberty as American citizens. Although people like Ashcruft, Bush, and North might be foaming at the mouth at the opportunity to gain such a significant amount of control over the lives of American citizens, few people seem willing to ask a very important question: How much of this is necessary?

        Aside from questions of necessity, any system is only as strong as its weakest link. Imagine the kinds of problems that can surface with access to critical parts of the system...say, a stack of blank birth certificates, the machines used to produce such documents, or a clerk, interested in making a few extra bucks by providing false - yet certifiable - documents to someone.

        And one question I've never seen asked yet - what happens when the data being housed by the Office of Information Awareness is wrong? What oversight exists to make sure the data are accurate, and to ensure that any inaccurate data will be corrected? Those who who have had the misfortune of dealing with any of the major credit reporting agencies know the futility involved in this process. If people think we have problems now...just wait. "Security" could become our biggest nightmare.
      • by bbc22405 ( 576022 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @05:58PM (#4687307)
        The argument is necesarially that these measures would have prevented past terrorist attacks, but tht it might help prevent future ones.

        No, it's just more intrusive crap that they're piling on law-abiding citizens. It is unlikely to do anything but aid in the post-mortem analysis of what the terrorist ate for dinner the night before the attack, etc. You still might not even know who the terrorist really was, just that the same ID card was at that particular Pizza Hut.

        ID cards can be forged. ID cards can be stolen. ID cards can be just blithely gotten and used appropriately by people who are more violent than you assumed they were.

        The most obvious things to do, screen ALL bags, have bomb-sniffing dogs sniff all your stuff, and have gun-toting federal agents on ALL flights, has not yet been accomplished. I can understand the difficulty in obtaining more dogs quickly.

        The inability to get more federal agents on flights is inexcusable. We could transfer to this job the numerous DEA agents who are currently engaged in our highly harmful and bogus War On Drugs, and put them on the planes. (Bam, fixed two problems at once!)

    • by Master Bait ( 115103 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @03:08PM (#4686395) Homepage Journal
      US gov's 'ultimate database' run by a felon []
      The Register []
      By Thomas C Greene in Washington

      We all know that truth is stranger than fiction, and here we have an apparently real item straight from the realm of Tom Clancy. Imagine a huge, absolutely huge, central database containing both the official and commercial data of every single citizen, run by the US military ostensibly for anti-terror and Homeland Security purposes, and all of it under the direction of a convicted felon.

      Well the database is in development and coming soon, according to the New York Times; and the felon who will run it is disgraced Reagan administration liar, dirty-trickster and cover-uper Admiral John M. Poindexter, who Dubya has taken out of mothballs to keep us all safe from dreadful evildoers.

      Poindexter got caught up in a little Federal crime spree called Iran-Contra a decade ago, stood trial and was convicted, but managed to escape responsibility on an odd technicality.

      As told succinctly by [], Poindexter was "Indicted March 16, 1988, on seven felony charges. After standing trial on five charges, Poindexter was found guilty April 7, 1990, on all counts: conspiracy (obstruction of inquiries and proceedings, false statements, falsification, destruction and removal of documents); two counts of obstruction of Congress and two counts of false statements.

      District Judge Harold H. Greene sentenced Poindexter June 11, 1990, to six months in prison on each count, to be served concurrently. A three-judge appeals panel on November 15, 1991, reversed the convictions on the ground that Poindexter's immunized testimony may have influenced the trial testimony of witnesses. The Supreme Court on December 7, 1992, declined to review the case. In 1993, the indictment was dismissed on the motion of Independent Counsel."

      Now he's in charge of the newly-invented Information Awareness Office, a part of that mixed bag of good and bad, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and he's got his eye on basically every scrap of data about every single citizen. The system Poindy is preparing to unleash on us "will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant," the NYT article [] says.

      And he's in no way embarrassed by his role ensuring that the US military and federal law enforcement and intelligence spooks can quite conveniently spy on the populace. He's said openly that the US government "needs to 'break down the stovepipes' that separate commercial and government databases," the article says.

      Poindexter joins a slew of Reagan-era retreads and Iran-Contra alumni now operating brazenly in Dubya's bureaucracy. No doubt he feels quite comfortable among such familiar company, though I doubt I could say the same for the rest of us. ®

  • ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    How ironic that they don't know how bad national IDs are, considering that the Bush administration are conservative Christians!

    Here's why national IDs are bad:

    Revelations 13:16-18 []

    16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
    17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
    18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
    • It is a loss numerological translation for the name of the Roman Emperor Nero, who persecuted Christians with intense fervor.
    • 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

      Sheesh. There's a difference between national ID cards and bar-code tattoos. And I haven't heard any real issues that would arise from folks not carrying their ID cards, aside from maybe not getting on an airline--but wait, you need a passport to leave the country anyway...

      Solomon brought plauges upon his country because he took a bloody census, but that doesn't stop us from doing it every ten years. And I think that there's a city somewhere named Babylon that doesn't get attacked by all of christendom...

      In short, there's nothing contradcitory about Christians who think National IDs are a good idea. It fits in with the whole "what is whispered in the shadows shall be shouted from rooftops" kind of thing.
    • That makes about as much sense as if I said the Democrats should not support something because it goes against the Communist manifesto.

      Exercise some intelligence and realize that just because someone is conservative and shares some moral ideology with the Bible does not make that person a Bible-thumper.

      I, for example, am conservative but I'm not Christian - I'm an atheist. The two are not inconsistent. Conservativism is much more than brainless Bible-thumping just like Liberalism is more than just repeating the Communist manifesto by rote.
  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:11PM (#4686112)
    At every airport gate, ship dock, bus platform and train station....a guy that kinda looks like the guy in the Sprint PCS commercials, but with a mustache and wearing a black leather coat walks up to everyone and says: "your pay-pers pleese!"
  • Two words. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:11PM (#4686113)
    "internal passport".

    Okay, maybe that's not what they're doing *quite* yet... but if I've ever seen a slippery slope, that's where this one's heading to.
  • by redfiche ( 621966 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:13PM (#4686127) Journal
    As with any security system, there will be certain limitations of freedom. That is the price of safety.

    The problem that needs to be addressed is how will the system fail? What safegaurds will be in place to protect you if your card is lost or stolen? What recourse will you have to remove false information about you from the databases? What are the ramifications of someone successfully couterfeiting one of these cards?

    I don't think the idea of a national ID card/database is inherently bad, but there are a number of question that need to be addressed to make sure the system's cost in loss of freedom does not outweigh its benefit.

  • by foxxo ( 262627 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:15PM (#4686132) Homepage
    I'm not trolling, but could someone please tell me what the "privacy concerns" surrounding this are? I checked out all three of the links included in the post about why ID's are so "bad," but the closest thing I got to an explanation was having catch-phrases like "internal passport" thrown at me. I really do want to know what's got everyone's panties in a bunch. Please reply.
    • Re:Privacy? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RayBender ( 525745 )
      I'm not trolling, but could someone please tell me what the "privacy concerns" surrounding this are?

      Because knowledge is power, and power corrupts.

      Seriously though, it's hard to give a short answer without using catch-phrases, but your question is reasonable, so here goes..

      According to many people, the specific problem with the proposed new database and ID number is that it gives too much power to law enforcement and intelligence services. How? Well, the value of a database increases combinatorically with the amount of information (about a given individual) in it. At some point it really becomes possible to know almost everything about a person... And that is scary, because that means that most likely you can now intimidate or control them. What if they are gay? You can threaten to cost them their job (or life in some places of the country). What if they are looking at porn? You can threaten to ruin their marriage. What if they have an expensive health problem? You can cost them health insurance. Or you can just plain make stuff up about them - and once it is in the system there may be little they can do. Imagine not being able to buy a car or a house because you can't get credit - because the computer says you are not credit-worthy. Or if you want to work at an aerospace company but can't get a job because you "aren't cleared". There is often very little you can do to clean up your reputation (If you've ever been a victim of identify theft you know what I'm talking about). The point is that it doesn't take much - maybe you don't go to jail, but your life gets hard enough that you stop worrying about improving government and just hunker down trying to keep a job.

      Another example; the library may have a list of your reading habits, your ISP knows what you look at on the Web, and the credit card company knows what you purchase... Now, what if the government had easy access to all of the above? The point being "easy" as in they can go fishing (or data mining) for "suspicious" behaviour - as opposed to having to obtain a warrant for a specific individual based on probable cause.

      This gets very interesting when you start compiling "watch lists", where certain people are singled out for attention. The recent airline security lists are a perfect example - they are apparently being used to harass peace activists, left-leaning activists etc etc. It really doesn't take much to have a chilling effect on political freedom. You may be able to shout your political opinions on the street corner thanks to the first amendment, but if it means that you'll be strip searched every time you travel, you may prefer to keep a lower profile. And that's all those in power want - for the opposition to just fade away.

      The most serious problem is that it circumvents any checks and balances to the abuse of power. Imagine if the FBI started compiling files on the political opposition, and used blackmail to silence them? This is illegal (not to mention bad for the country because it destroys democracy). The courts should step in, right? Well, what if the FBI started compiling information on judges, and used that to keep the courts in line? Maybe some good investigative journalists will blow the whole thing open - or maybe they can be blackmailed too...(or nowadays the parent company can be convinced to shed "unprofitable" investigative reporting). You may think this will never happen, but do you really want to put that kind of power in the hands of a small group of people, with no insight into what they use it for? In case you don't know your history, look up Hoover and the FBI. Or read about the STASI in East Germany, and how to control a society using a primitive version of this kind of database. There it was sometimes possible to break up political protests by merely taking pictures of the demonstrators - they all knew what the consequences would be if they were identified.

      I think history shows us that government works best when its powers are strictly limited. This past year has seen a tremendous increase in government power; it remains to be seen what will happen, but past experience isn't comforting.

  • by Slashdotess ( 605550 ) <> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:15PM (#4686133)
    Reading the story you find out this is not a national ID system.
    TSA has made important progress in selecting a uniform system of identification, a card-based biometric information system, that will support positive identification of individuals working in the transportation sector and encompassing the aviation, train, shipping, and trucking industries.
    This system is not for you, the everyday individual. This is for making sure people like stewards on airlines don't have to go through security checks everyday to see if they're carrying a bomb. Using new authentication technology that's been discussed on /. already (ie: retinal scanning) they can pass these people by so they can do their jobs quickly, rather than waiting in a security line everyday just to go to work. We do that enough on city "expressways" already..
    • Yup, it's covered under the interstate commerce clause.

      Just like drivers licensing.

      So it doesn't affect us "everyday individuals" who don't have any reason (or ability) to engage in interstate commerce.

      (Too bad I gotta buy and sell to eat; guess I'll have to take the mark after all...

    • Because, you know, we haven't ever had a FBI agent who sold US intelligence to other countries. I mean, we know they're good Americans so they would never sell out America.

      Oh, wait a minute [].


    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @03:18PM (#4686449)
      Reading the story you find out this is not a national ID system.

      Not yet. But we already know, indeed have it on public record, that they want a national ID system, that that is their ultimate goal, and while they may not admit to this being a first step, it certainly appears very much like a first step in that direction.

      "Those of you with our voluntary ID will have convinience, while those of you without our voluntary ID will be stand in line, be thoroughly scanned, perhaps even patted down or more invasively searched. Welcome to the New World Order, citizen!" How many will choose the latter, because the former is even more distressing than being tracked everywhere, particularly if you travel frequently?

      This system is not for you, the everyday individual. This is for making sure people like stewards on airlines don't have to go through security checks everyday to see if they're carrying a bomb. Using new authentication technology that's been discussed on /. already (ie: retinal scanning) they can pass these people by so they can do their jobs quickly, rather than waiting in a security line everyday just to go to work.

      Great idea ... NOT. I have a friend who flies 737s for United, and while he occasionally gets annoyed (and has some absurd anectdotes from) going through security, he is quick to point out that allowing one group to bypass the security checks creates a catastrophic point of failure, where all a terrorist has to do is get a job doing grunt work for an airline, and they can walze right past security.

      Even now it is a problem, with everyone going through security, but at least the existing system, while imperfect, makes the logistic of smuggling weapons and expolisves on board very non-trivial.

      This approach isn't going to improve security, indeeed it will do the opposite, by creating an exploitable exception to security.

      What it will facilitate is the government tracking (some) of its citizens. Frankly, I'd rather suffer a 9/11 event once each year and take my chances (my car would still be 17 times more likely to kill me), than to turn over that kind of power to my government.

      Indeed, terrorism doesn't particularly frighten me (and I work across the street from the Sears Tower, a big target if there ever was one). It is like lightning ... if it hits me, I die, but the odds are very good it won't hit me, and I'm not going to waste time and energy being afraid of it.

      Now, our government on the other hand, is ubiquitious. The odds of its behavior impacting me are 100% ... and I fear it much, much more than I fear some illiterate fanatics from camel-fucking country (apologies in advance to the moderate majorities of those places for my tongue in cheeck jab at American prejudices).
      • Or to put it in terms the natives can understand, it'd be as if all sysadmins used the same password. Become a sysadmin [airline employee], get the password [ID card], get access to networks [air terminals]. What? No one noticed your previous career as a cracker [terrorist]?

        And if anyone hasn't yet noticed, an aircraft IS a bomb. Bringing explosives aboard is redundant.

        I grew up in the shadow of the #2 Cold War-era nuclear target in the U.S. After that, terrorists are small potatoes. ;)

    • Reading the story you find out this is not a national ID system.
      This system is not for you, the everyday individual.

      Read it again. What you describe is:

      (From the article:)

      The Transportation Worker ID Card: Vision for the Future
      Elaine Charney, TWIC Program Manager, Transportation Security Administration

      Read the next line down:

      The Registered Traveler ID Initiative
      Mike Barrett, Registered Traveler Program Manager, Transportation Security Administration

      Regestered Traveler ID Initiative? Registered Traveler Program? The problem is there is no additional information as to what this means, but it sure sounds like this would cover you and I flying (or even driving?) from Indy to DFW.

      But there's no additional info so it's hard to comment intelligently about it. Perhaps they just rever to visitors/workers with visas. Perhaps only certain people will need it. Perhaps you can avoid it by wearing a tin hat. Perhaps we'll all have government barcodes and Lojacks implanted. Too little info and a scary sounding title make for some upset Slashdotters.
  • by rebbie ( 165490 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:18PM (#4686147)
    What is to prevent a "registered traveler" from doing something nefarious? Nothing! None of the 9/11 band of bad guys hid their identities. They didn't have to or want to. They (at least the leaders) wanted to die and to let everyone know who did what. Besides, their MO -- planes as missiles -- will probably not work anymore on commercial jets.

    While the TSA scrambles to secure airports terrorists will likely just find another way to accomplish their goals while the rest of us stand in a "security" line designed to make us feel safer.

    Does anyone else remember the bogus Pan Am security screening fee from years back? They didn't actually do extra screening but the impression of doing more made the passengers feel better...

    • None of the 9/11 band of bad guys hid their identities.

      That's because they knew they didn't have to choose between a security-related identification card or extra scrutiny at the gate.

      People don't seem to understand, or they aren't willing to accept, that security and safety are games of hedging and probability. To use a tired old analogy, it's like locking your front door. Will that stop a determined criminal? No, but it will a) make your house a less attractive target, and b) force bad guys to look for other ways in. The big-picture goal behind any given measure is not to ensure absolute prevention, it's to force bad guys to work harder, and to influence the direction of their attempts to circumvent your defenses.
    • Besides, their MO -- planes as missiles -- will probably not work anymore on commercial jets.
      How to make a plane into a missle:
      1. Tommy Terrorist immigrates to the US from Canada, using his counterfeit Canadian passport.
      2. He gets a regular joe-job, works hard and stays out of trouble for 5 years.
      3. He enrolls in flight-school and gets a job as a copilot at a small discount airline (ala Funjet) who is desperate for cheap help.
      4. Upon a signal from his sleeper cell, he takes the handgun that is now standard-issue in all cockpits and shoots the captain in the head (note that since the cockpit doors installed in 2005 cannot be opened once the plane is in flight, there is no way for the air marshal to get into the cabin).
      5. Tommy then flies the fully-fueled plane into the nearest high-rise.
      6. ...
      7. Profit!
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:19PM (#4686152) Journal
    The idea is to positively ID people working in the transporation business.

    TSA has made important progress in selecting a uniform system of identification, a card-based biometric information system, that will support positive identification of individuals working in the transportation sector and encompassing the aviation, train, shipping, and trucking industries.

    This is bad for several reasons. First, it won't solve anything. All it will do is further infringe upon the privacy of people working in this sector. The terrorists did not strike at us by impersonating workers, but just regular travellers.

    It also won't do any good if/when it's used on people just going from place to place. Once again, the terrorists did not forge any identification. They didn't have to. Replacing one form of ID with another in this case is just stupid.

    Nonsense like this is just bringing us closer to a locked down state where you must have your papers in order to go anywhere. And to think, at one point, this nation mocked the Russians for this kind of crap.
    • The argument that this will not make things harder for terrorists is silly. Do you really think that all of the ID's the government issues to its own employees for secure system access are totally useless? That everybody in the government security world is stupid or evil?

      The current ID systems in the US are a mess, because there has been no security need in the past. We need more reliable ID. Heck, I want it just to protect from identity theft!

      A more secure system will not be perfect. NO security system is. But that in itself is not an argument against implementing security.

      The argument that the terrorists got away with it last time so they will get away with it this time is just plain silly. I won't even bother to refute it.

      As far as security reducing your freedoms... well duh! So does being blown up or infected with smallpox. ALL government is a tradeoff between freedom and some kind of benefit.

      Since the best argument for having government at all is to have it protect you from threats by others, the government enacting security measures for our protection is their duty.

      There are really only two issues that reasonable people can dispute:

      1) How much freedom is one willing to trade for how much added security.

      2) Whether the security system is the most effective use of resources to solve the problem. It may be that other measures are better, and you can't do all of them. In other words, cost/benefit analysis makes sense here too.
  • by SloWave ( 52801 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:20PM (#4686155) Journal
    George's Electronic Security, Transportation, And Papers Organization
  • Ligitimate Fraud (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zulux ( 112259 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:20PM (#4686158) Homepage Journal
    Personally I don't see what the big deal is if this is combined with some consumer protection:

    United airlines has a right to demand that I provide proof of who I am, if it's a condition of them doing business with me. Just like I have the right to demand that United's pilots wear a pigmy white tailed monkey on their heads if it a condition of me flying with them. If either one of us doesen't like the demands that the other is making, then fine. We just won't do business with each other.

    Now if United started babbing about my travel details, then I'd be rightfully pissed.

  • Read The Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:20PM (#4686161) Homepage
    They're not talking about a national ID card system.

    The page (which is a poor one, since it's really just an agenda for presentations) covers two topics. One is an ID system for transportation workers, so that they have some way of verifying that the guy in the tarmac in a blue jumpsuit really is an employee who is allowed to be there. That is arguably a good thing. Many professions have this. I go to a hospital and my doctor is wearing an ID badge, and that makes me feel good, because if I trust the badge, I'm reasonably assured that this main isn't some psycho pretending to be a doctor. The TSA is looking at a way to unify the many different systems under one, so that rather than having 50 different types of identification depending on where you go, everyone will have the same types of ID. They're not implementing a new system. They're making an existing one more standardized.

    The second is the Registered Traveler ID. This system is a voluntary system for frequent flyers to bypass the tedious and sometimes invasive security procedures at airports and train stations. Basically, you go through the background checks, etc. once, and then you can skip all the feel-down lines and breeze your way to the gate. Basically, they want to make it easier for people to travel. If you, as a citizen, don't want to be registered, don't get the card. You can go through the long lines with other unregistered travelers and your "privacy" (or the illusion of it) is safe.
    • by DrewK ( 44568 )
      So then, register in the system. Take some un-eventful trips then pack the samsonite with semtex? Past behavior and plastic cards are no insurance against future actions. Remember most of the 9/11 hijackers had valid ID.
      Besides while the US may not have a National ID, it does have a unique identifier for everyone, the SSN#, and each State does require an ID that must be presented to law enforcement on demand or to receive any services from that state. National ID in the US would be redundant.
      • Besides while the US may not have a National ID, it does have a unique identifier for everyone, the SSN#, and each State does require an ID that must be presented to law enforcement on demand or to receive any services from that state. National ID in the US would be redundan

        You can hide your SSN from anyone who doesn't need it for its original purpose--pick a random number if they just want it for ID purposes.

        In NYS, you don't need to carry your driver's license--you just need to identify yourself. To gain state services, a driver's license is just the most convenient method, as you've allready identified yourself to the body you're dealing with. You could choose not to, and just carry sufficient redundant identifications if you like... (I think a credit card in your name and six bills in your name at your address will work... it's been awhile.)
    • The second is the Registered Traveler ID.
      I wonder how this will affect the market over at [] where you can buy and sell futures on real life events, like whether there will be a national "Registered Travelers" system in place by 4/1/03.
    • Re:Read The Article (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lildogie ( 54998 )
      > The second is the Registered Traveler ID.
      > This system is a voluntary system for frequent
      > flyers to bypass the tedious and sometimes
      > invasive security procedures at airports and
      > train stations.

      Well, I'll again paraphrase Lessig's "Code and the Laws of Cyberspace."

      There are basically four ways to regulate something:
      1) Make a law
      2) Change the infrastructure
      3) Establish social norms
      4) Apply market forces

      A "voluntary" system for frequent flyers, to allow someone to bypass the search stations, creates a two-tier infrastructure:
      A: People who get to go right to their plane,
      B: People who have to stand in line to get searched.

      Now, once having established the two-tier system, what do you think will happen with tier "B"? To "save money," there will be fewer search stations and personnel. You'll have to plan to wait hours in line, and get particularly invasive searches.

      What will happen with tier "A"? You get to go right to your plane, without delay, without intrusion.

      Let's imagine the Gov't really wants you to get the card. (Not a big stretch of imagination, IMHO.) They make choice "B" so burdensome that you'll be compelled to choose "A" instead. The Gov't will point out that your rights are not being violated, since you aren't being denied travel if you choose not to go the "A" route. You can always exercise your privacy rights in the 2 to 4-hour "B" lines.

      That's how to use infrastructure instead of law to compel the population to get their passenger ID's. Make the rights-preserving alternative so onerous that no one really wants to use it.

      Read Lessig's book, it's an eye-opener (as he intended it to be).
      • This is the real point here. Think about the business travellers who fly weekly or more. They'll jump through the hoops for convenience, and they are the airlines' bread and butter.As long as they are in the same line with everybody else, the security checks can't be too slow or invasive. When they get the option of a fast lane, they'll take it. Once they're gone, the "normal" lane can get more and more onerous.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:21PM (#4686162) Homepage Journal
    Let's just take it a step further, take everyone that doesn't look "american" tatoo them and put them in a holding camp. We can go ahead and "purify" the whole country.

    Hey pompus "security and safety conscious" jerks, unless you are a Native American, then someone up your family tree came over on a boat/plane too. It is true, some people from other countries do actually like to visit america, and they're not here to hurt us, though I'm sure there is a little poking fun at our "traditional ways".

    get some culture...

  • No Papers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MyHair ( 589485 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:22PM (#4686175) Journal
    I read the links but found no concrete information on what this is about, but "Registered Traveler ID Initiative" sounds very disconcerting.

    I just watched "The Hunt for Red October" again last week. There's a scene where the would-be Soviet defector sub Captain (Sean Connery) and First Officer (Sam Niel) are discussing what they'll do in America. The first officer would like to live in Montana but says something like "I might buy a recreational vehicle and travel from state to state...they let you do that? No papers?" Captain: "No papers."
  • How Many ID Cards? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alexander.morgan ( 317764 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:26PM (#4686194)
    The question for Americans isn't if an ID card is a good idea, the question is how many ID cards everybody should have and what the "good" guys do with all the data they collect. Let's see: driver license, social security card, credit card, library card, student ID, etc...

    Then the whole thing is neatly organized in commercial and government databases. All that supplemented by the nefarious census database. What else could the government possibly want to know about you, except perhaps your color preference?

    ID cards are a fact of modern life; all of us already have half a dozen of them--unless you live you life as a hermit, or your one of the bad guys.

    The real issue is controlling what the government and commercial entities do with all the data they collect. And in the U.S. it's pretty much anything goes. They even let convicted criminals like Poindexter play with all those databases; a guy who has already demonstrated a complete disregard for U.S. laws restricting what the government can do. Then again, he's proven himself trustworthy to his superiors, which is obviously more important.

    I don't think the government wants ID cards any more than the people, because with an ID card, there'd be laws that restrict access to the information. Right now, all that information is available in a free for all--free as in access, not beer ;).
  • Don't forget the Harrison Ford tossin a Nazi out of the blimp with the phrase ... "No papers" ...


    Kevin Smith tossin Matt Daemon out of the train, lighting up a cigarette ... with a remake phrase of "no papers" ...

    For safety sake, say no to safety!!

  • by Sean Clifford ( 322444 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:30PM (#4686213) Journal
    ID cards can be lost or stolen. Iris scanners take too bloody long (>10-15 seconds staring into one) and watching to see whether someone's going to grab an ID or a gun is tiresome.

    Why not implant a chip in the forehead of everyone? A little stick and *bam* you're done. Serial number of chip keyed to your DNA/fingerprints/ass prints. Or you can simply use a barcode tatooed on the back of a hand in invisible ink that shows up under UV. A simple *bleep* with a barcode scanner and you've identified Citizen X or Criminal Y.

    • This is what the ultimate goal is, at least until they can scan DNA in real time, from a resonable distance.. then 'tagging' will be moot.

    • We could come with an ink or a special chip to implemeant under the front skin which would automatically be triggered by a radio reader, then coupling those with a camera at airport and OCR, et voila ! Let us also had automatic weapon to shoot at the would be criminal if the tag is recognized as "terrorisT" or unreadable...

      Ho wait a minute.... You did wrote "sarcasm" in your post. Never mind.
  • Anyone who has obtained a green card in the last couple of years has had their fingerprints digitally scanned and cataloged. Ultimately this will be applied to citizens as well. Its sad but seems inevitable - I don't see anyone in a decision-making capacity voicing strong opposition.
  • Railroad ID Cards (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmcphall ( 560577 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:36PM (#4686243)
    I work for a nationally known freight railroad. Not too much has been done after 9/11. Only the checkpoints that the truck drivers have to pass through, will not let anybody but trucks and higher-ups (trainmaster, hub manager, etc) that need to go through. Plus we got a new set of rules for dealing with the HAZ MAT.

    I really don't see how it would help the railroads out. In the yards, you are using the radio consantly. You would know when a person that isn't supposed to be there is messing around. When you work the road (main line), you have to get a form of permission from the dispatcher (Track Warrent, Verbal Permission, etc), know how to read/use the form of permission. Also, people consantly talk to each other, and know who is assigned to the train ahead and behind them.

    A lot of our trains run at 70 mph. Few trains that don't. Dead frieght (manifest, or boxcars and the like), Key trains, (loaded with HAZ MAT, or "bombs"), or any car that is not able or designed to travel at that speed. I can not see stopping a 70mph high priority intermodal train just to see id's!

  • Next it will be random ( or total ) searches of private citizens on the street and in their private vehicles..

    I am proud of my country... but things like this make me wonder if im blind. No im not in reality i SEE what is happening.. but powerless to stop it alone.. we need to band together.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @02:42PM (#4686274) Homepage
    The homeland security people are fighting the last war, not the next one. Classic military mistake. The next big attack will be elsewhere. With all this new emphasis on transportation security, an intelligent opposition will attack somewhere else.

    The need is not to make transportation safe against terrorism. The need is to find all the places where a terrorist act could kill thousands of people and work to harden up such targets. Utility infrastructure, nuclear plants, chemical facilities, and related operations need tighter security. That will save more lives than IDing travellers.

    • If security doesn't improve in the transportation sector, there's no reason not to try that approach again. It's remarkably cheap, after all. One would have to be a bit more careful of the passengers, but I think that could be dealt with.
    • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @05:01PM (#4687039) Homepage Journal
      No, you're wrong- they ARE fighting the next war. But it is not against the terrorists, at all. The terrorists are indispensable and if they don't exist they will be invented [], because they are a tool for instilling a climate of fear for the purposes of tightening state control over the populace.

      Which may never have happened, if our foreign policy did not produce some real terrorists- but look at the responses to this, and who benefits! It doesn't even matter if there are any terrorists left anymore, or if all of Al Quaeda lies buried in Afghan rubble. Probably dozens of us slashdotter media geeks could fake new Osama videos just as good as if they were real. It's no longer about terrorists at all- ask the UK, or Palestine, about living with continued violence. At this point it is about a radical shift in the structure of United States government, and whether it meets resistance or not, THAT is the war we currently have. The terrorists are mere assistants in this process. They have been co-opted.

    • "The homeland security people are fighting the last war, not the next one."

      Not even. They're not even dealing with Pearl Harbor very well.

      They want to fingerprint tourists. They want to issue manditory national ID. They want machines to collect your e-mail. They want to monitor the use of your library card...

      Ignoring what these do to civil liberties for the moment, what do they intend to do with all this gathered information? Just like they've been doing since before the organization of the CIA, all this information will be locked away in some filing cabinet in the basement of some federal building somewhere.

      Pearl Harbor and 9/11 both came about because of the focus on information gathering instead of information interpretation. And ideas like this are set to make the same mistakes over and over again well into this new century.

      Information may be ammunition, ammo is pretty useless if you don't have a gun.
  • If you think that all of the information that would be included on any sort of national ID isn't already easily avaiable, you're ignorant, stupid or both.

    Besides, do you really think that the US government needs to issue you a card before they can invade your privacy and track your movements? It's the government, for God sakes!

    If you're really cynical, ID cards might even be a good thing. If it makes it easier for the government to invade your privacy (remembering that they can do it at will already), than at least it'll be cheaper! You've already lost all semblence of privacy, at least you can get it at a discount.

    Maybe that's how the Republicans plan to cut taxes... :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No, really, why don't some of you all come up with some solutions to these national security and intelligence problems.

    Here's the process...

    1. Work 10+ years in the intelligence/national secutiry/CT/etc. field at an operational level.

    2. Based on your work-related experience, come up with some solutions. Beware that no matter what solution you suggest, you will be compared to 'the gestapo' because of the thousands of 'experts' on 'abuses of power by U.S. intelligence agencies' who 'know' that everything directed by Oliver Stone is 100% factual/accurate/etc.

    There's alot more to these problems than is ever reported by

    Yes, some of the terrorists of 9/11 were travelling under 'flagged' IDs. One of the main things that kept them from being caught was a lack of a database link between overseas and domestic intelligence/seciruty agencies.

    Some agencies knew they were in the country, and issued alerts for them to be detained. The ability to get that alert to every domestic law enforcement person in time was not available.

    Everyone who reads be brutally honest with yourselves - what would the comments have read like if 1 year before 9/11 reported on a government plan to link databases between the State Dept., INS, CIA, and FBI. Most of you would have been against it, assigned some dark and false ulterior motive to such a plan, etc.

    Here are some cold, hard, facts - totally free democracies are very easy targets for terrorism and hostile intelligence agencies.

    The reason the KGB has such a great track record in terms of intelligence work is because they worked against the most open societies the world has ever known and they worked for the most oppressive/closed society the world has ever known (US and UK intelligence personnel who operated against the Gestapo during WW2 quickly found out that it was impossible - IMPOSSIBLE - to run penetration agents inside the Soviet bloc during the cold war - by 1960 all agents run vs. the Soviet bloc were citizens of the Soviet bloc -communist CI/internal security was an order of magnitude better than what the Gestapo could do, and the Gestapo agents were more intelligent and better trained than most communist agents). KGB intelligence officers and terrorist operatives were/are not genetically superior to your average FBI CI Officer (that's counter intelligence for the unknowing). The simple fact is that the deck is stacked massively in favor of the bad guys due to 'form of government'. If you want to give the good guys (and they ARE the good guys - I am one of them and I don't care what porn you look at...send me the links...and I don't care what conspiracies you buy into, and I don't care about anything you do until you start wiring money to the bank account of one of the 18 best operators that Al-Q has 'on the books' at the moment - and the same goes for my superiors and co-workers) a better chance you are going to have to TRUST them to use the powerful tools (hopefully placed) at their disposal in a responsible manner.

    Reccomended reading for on the history of the CIA during the 'big conspiracy' times:

    'The Very Best Men'

    Written by a 'suspicious' reporter who was given access to OSS and CIA files released under the FOIA.

    Slashdot rules. Keep up the good work. Don't try and build a nuclear weapon and you probably won't attract any attention to the porn on your computers. :)

    Anonymous Cowardly Good Guy
    • In that case, maybe you had better let go of the desire to run secret police as well as the KGB, and approach the terrorism problem from a different angle, like not blowing up their countries, instilling puppet governments, and meddling in their politics at the behest of American political and business interests.

      I love the assumptions that terrorism will automatically be so motivated that it'll move heaven and earth to hurt us. They hate us because we're NICE. Riiiight. So we stop being nice and they're supposed to stop hating us? Uh-huh.

      American citizens didn't start wanting to make the Middle East a sheet of glass (a desire I've literally seen post 9/11- 'kill them all, men women and children') until the United States was literally attacked- not threatened, but physically attacked with great loss of life.

      How many of you can identify the situations in which WE have identifiably physically attacked other countries and caused loss of life? We have a history of taking action like that, in the absence of declared war, sometimes by proxy (Israel) and our name's on every ammo clip.

      If we were not physically assaulting people's homelands it would be a MUCH harder sell for some character to go 'Hey, here's an idea- go to the United States and BLOW YOURSELF UP AND DIE!'. It takes a very large amount of rage and despair to buy into something like that. If the threat is less urgent, that idea won't fly anymore.

      Instead, our US leaders seem to want to go, 'Hey, here's an idea- let's keep everybody afraid and punish them terribly if they ARE terrorists, and intimidate them if they look kinda like terrorists, and we'll call 'freedom' the ability to sit home and not be blown up!' I think they are collaborating with the real terrorists to instill fear, for their personal gain. I find that pretty contemptible. If you're walking down the street you can be hit by a car, but that doesn't mean people need to be locked in small car-proof boxes. Freedom is risk and opportunity. You can't split off the risk part and discard it.

    • It's valuable to have your input here, and your point is well-taken (at least, I think I've taken it well). I'll go read the book. However, I think the tough job that intelligence has doesn't diminish some of the objections here. How is this database really going to help? I'm not talking about the criminal/INS/FBI databases... I'm talking about travel records, commercial stuff, etc. This smacks of more technology worship which could displace genuine efforts at human intelligence. Second, how are we going to insure this isn't abused? Having Poindexter dismiss oversight as beaurocratic stovepiping doesn't inspire any confidence. Power corrupts. The only check for that is oversight and tranparency. Without that, we stand as much a risk of becoming the "bad guys" as the bad guys.
    • "Here are some cold, hard, facts - totally free democracies are very easy targets for terrorism and hostile intelligence agencies."

      Ok, swell, point of agreement.

      Point one, in the US that's the deal we willingly trade some security for freedom. Don't mess with that, do NOT go beyond that point. That's an order, not a request, dig? You work for us, not the other way around, dig that too? If not, do some historical reading.

      "You" are not our masters, nope, WE are your masters. Your check and pension mean less than nothing, understand? Less_than_nothing. We LIKE it like that, it's DESIGNED that way on purpose. YOU guys usurped that a long time ago at the point of a gun barrel, so no pompous "it's worse in the soviet union". Well ya, DUH, and we DON'T want it to get that bad. It's getting "worse like in the soviet union" one step at a time, step by step, the boiling frog principle. The deal is, a lot of folks just happen to NOT be frogs and can see what's happening. Don't talk down to them either. It insults them and it is insulting to yourself.

      OK,I'm done lecturing now, we're back to being pals. Nothing personal, just needed to be said out loud. The following is just DATA.

      POINT TWO, this one is REAL important.

      For this "you guys" is generic soup agency volk.

      WTC got attacked TWICE. Not ONCE but TWICE. The SNITCH "YOU GUYS" HAD INSIDE THE Al QUEDA CELL did NOT want to use a real truck bomb, when he saw the device was LIVE he freaked out, he thought it was a sting with a faux device. He was ORDERED to go ahead and set it, by some faction inside one of "you guys" orgs. This is called a CLUE.


      Yep, certainly not all of you guys are bad, we understand that and appreciate it, BUT, there's certainly some factions with a "not nice" agenda, aren't there? We WANT allies, we WANT to trust, but understand, a lot of "you" have been brainwashed or are ignoring high level- I mean HIGH level order giving upstairs god level- traitorus complicity in not only wtc 1 but wtc 2 and OKC/murragh and some others. This is REALITY, DEAL WITH IT.

      POINT FOUR --go after the white guys in suits, start looking at the "put" options the days prior to 9-11 and the "connections" there. SERIOUSLY look there, see how far you get, who stops you, and remember those names. Look at the bosses who ordered agents in phoenix, minneapolis and a few places in florida to stand down. Look at the bosses of the number 2 guy at the DLI in monterey who shut him up. Follow the food chains, see where they go. Stop insisting that this snake has no head, or that the head consists of "only" radical muslims, they are tools, part of the body of the snake but not the snake's head. You are being USED. THINK the unthinkable because it's HAPPENING and it's IMPORTANT that it's stopped before "they" get too far with it. Or are you forgetting the 3 thousand high level taliban who got flown out of ashcanistan during the war "timeout"? WHO ORDERD THAT AND WHY? It HAPPENED. Find out who let in the al queda KLA albanians and who trained them and where, and where did they all go to, because it happened. Who had the JUICE to get them pulled off of state's narco terr list? Think about "things" like that. You KNOW screwy stuff is going on, you can't avoid it. You KNOW it's wrong.

      The crime, motive, profit, opportunity-start from a clean slate and re look at things. You'll see some clues that can lead to more and more.

      Good luck. I mean it.

      link to a real audio, skip ahead to the second hour and listen to it, interview with david schippers on this subject. names dates events
  • More importantly.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ainsoph ( 2216 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @03:56PM (#4686686) Homepage
    A landmark legislation is being railroaded through after the past elections where the repubs took control over the gov.

    You Are a Suspect

    ASHINGTON -- If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:

    Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."

    To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.

    This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks.

    Remember Poindexter? Brilliant man, first in his class at the Naval Academy, later earned a doctorate in physics, rose to national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan. He had this brilliant idea of secretly selling missiles to Iran to pay ransom for hostages, and with the illicit proceeds to illegally support contras in Nicaragua.

    A jury convicted Poindexter in 1990 on five felony counts of misleading Congress and making false statements, but an appeals court overturned the verdict because Congress had given him immunity for his testimony. He famously asserted, "The buck stops here," arguing that the White House staff, and not the president, was responsible for fateful decisions that might prove embarrassing.

    This ring-knocking master of deceit is back again with a plan even more scandalous than Iran-contra. He heads the "Information Awareness Office" in the otherwise excellent Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which spawned the Internet and stealth aircraft technology. Poindexter is now realizing his 20-year dream: getting the "data-mining" power to snoop on every public and private act of every American.

    Even the hastily passed U.S.A. Patriot Act, which widened the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and weakened 15 privacy laws, raised requirements for the government to report secret eavesdropping to Congress and the courts. But Poindexter's assault on individual privacy rides roughshod over such oversight.

    He is determined to break down the wall between commercial snooping and secret government intrusion. The disgraced admiral dismisses such necessary differentiation as bureaucratic "stovepiping." And he has been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans.

    When George W. Bush was running for president, he stood foursquare in defense of each person's medical, financial and communications privacy. But Poindexter, whose contempt for the restraints of oversight drew the Reagan administration into its most serious blunder, is still operating on the presumption that on such a sweeping theft of privacy rights, the buck ends with him and not with the president.

    This time, however, he has been seizing power in the open. In the past week John Markoff of The Times, followed by Robert O'Harrow of The Washington Post, have revealed the extent of Poindexter's operation, but editorialists have not grasped its undermining of the Freedom of Information Act.

    Political awareness can overcome "Total Information Awareness," the combined force of commercial and government snooping. In a similar overreach, Attorney General Ashcroft tried his Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), but public outrage at the use of gossips and postal workers as snoops caused the House to shoot it down. The Senate should now do the same to this other exploitation of fear.

    The Latin motto over Poindexter"s new Pentagon office reads "Scientia Est Potentia" -- "knowledge is power." Exactly: the government's infinite knowledge about you is its power over you. "We're just as concerned as the next person with protecting privacy," this brilliant mind blandly assured The Post. A jury found he spoke falsely before.

  • Yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @04:32PM (#4686897) Homepage Journal
    It'd make this easier:

    discussion [], contains text of SF chronicle article on airline no-fly lists used to harass and delay peace activists

    article [] explaining how if you look nonwhite or have the wrong sort of beard you get fingerprinted at the Canadian border

    Stay safe! Stay home! Be good and don't say anything!

    Next they'll be fingerprinting us at toll booths and you'll have to have a visa to travel from state to state. Hey, it worked for the USSR- for a while.

    As a matter of fact I was searched too, the last time I flew anywhere (rare, for me). I suppose next time I'll be strip-searched, or beat up a bit. However, I do have one big advantage- I'm white. And I don't wear a beard, or particularly long hair.

    Interesting times we live in. So this is what it's like to live in cold war USSR. Remember, there won't be a problem if you stay home and don't ask any questions!

  • ID fanatics (Score:2, Interesting)

    by attackiko ( 170417 )
    You guys have no idea how innocent ID cards are. We in Europe have them for years and we sure don't feel like being watched.

    The next time the terrorists strike you'll blame the government again. Maybe you should blame yourself for not listening to your security experts.

    Face it, you guys know IT, but you know nothing about security. You have no idea how all these terrorists in the last year were caught before they made any damage.

    (I'm sure this will get moded down to -2 in 1 minute)
  • Oh no!

    Not a national ID?!

    Did you know that they created a National ID in Finland one year ago on this day, and the day after everybodies' bank accounts were emtpy!

    When Sweden got their national IDs a hundred years ago, birthrate fell to (and still is) 0! Everybody could find out everything about everybody else, and suddenly nobody wanted to reproduce!

    Norwegian National IDs have built in radio transmitters, and the Big Bad Government has put receivers everywhere. Norwegians can't even take a sh*t without having it registered in the government's database (that is run by the Mafia!) how many grams of excrements they left!

    Danes are required to check each others National IDs before saying Hello!

    It's true! National IDs are BAD, mmmkay?


    Come ON. If little piss-ant countries like us in Scandinavia can have National IDs without problems, why shouldn't the big and glorious nation of USA be able to handle it? I find it difficult to believe that your government is so corrupt, so incompetent and so basically naughty that a National ID is impossible without a Big Brother situation. And if it is, why whine about the National ID instead of making sure that the incompetent government goes away?

    Or perhaps you could find a very big corporation that could run the database instead, it seems to work so well for other things.

    From the other side of the pond, you look a bit silly sometimes.

    And I'm not saying this to flame you, although I realize that many will take it that way. We europeans seem to have a different view of the world, and it just doesn't really fit with the governmental paranoia that seems to leak out of the cracks on slashdot as soon as anyone says anything that has the world "government" in it.

    • If little piss-ant countries like us in Scandinavia can have National IDs without problems, why shouldn't the big and glorious nation of USA be able to handle it?

      Yes, and if a bubble-sort works on my twelve records, why shouldn't it work on my hundred thousand integers!

      First place, the Scandinavian countries are much more homogenous than the US. Secondly, they're smaller; at 20 million people, you can meet with and talk to a person who works with the head-honcho. In the US, you don't get a chance to chat with a senator unless you're already pretty powerful. Thirdly, the Scandinavian countries aren't filled with paraniod people and run by paraniod people.

      Ruby Ridge; Waco; the Oklahoma City Bombing; the trial of the leaders of the Black Panther party; Saco and Vancetti. If you give me equivelent events in Scandinavian history, I might have some indication that they are parellel situations.
      • You do indeed have a very good point, regarding that all things do not necessarily scale well.

        I don't know exactly what info is needed for a national ID card in the US, but I imagine that name, social security number (which I guess exists in some kind of database already) and current address are about everything you need. And collecting that data doesn't seem dangerous to me, even if the government running the database are corrupt bastards. At worst it seems they could give the information to companies to send people even more physical spam. But I might be missing something in the scale, or indeed in the current state of affairs in the US, that in fact makes this a dangerous database. Passports often carry information about length and eye color as well, which seems much more dangerous to me.

        The EFF wrote an article (linked to by the Slashdot article) about that National ID:s are bad, because the data can be abused. I don't see it. If someone could illuminate my mental darkness on this point, and illustrate in what way a database containing all names, ssns and addresses can be significantly abused would perhaps make my image more complete.

        • The EFF wrote an article (linked to by the Slashdot article) about that National ID:s are bad, because the data can be abused. I don't see it. If someone could illuminate my mental darkness on this point, and illustrate in what way a database containing all names, ssns and addresses can be significantly abused would perhaps make my image more complete.
          Lets take an example from Denmark (who has a national ID db called "CPR") from the 80's;
          The KGB simply bribed a low level county official to keep a tab on all soviet (and east-block) dissidents living here.
          No matter where the dissident moved, or if they had their named changed, the KGB would know that, besides all the other information kept in databases tied together around the CPR, like where you work, how much you earn, who your doctor are, where you children goes to school, etc.
          The problems with national ID's are they are very convinient for the state to tie all kinds of information around, and that they are used to "everything". That again means that even the lowliest, demoralized, underpaid county official has access to at least part of that information.
          Having such a national ID db, could be a major security risc, since it works both ways; all security and defence personel would be in that DB too, and therefore easy to "check out".
          Personally I always regarded the threat of a Soviet aggression very low, but I am quite sure, that the KGB and GRU had (has) excellent extracts of the national ID db's of both Denmark and Sweden, and that in a conflict, they could have used that info to great effect.
          During WWII, the NKVD gathered personal files of every german frontline commander, down to "captain" level. And they used that information extremely effectivly.
          Thanks to our national ID db, they probably had similar files on every officer in the danish (and swedish) army.
  • Supposing for a minute that it were even possible to create an identification system that could reliably identify travellers, we're still left with this problem:

    When they can't compromise the ID system, we'll simply find out how depressingly easy it is to compromise the people instead.

    What, you never heard of someone changing their mind? Of being bribed? Blackmailed? Deceived?

    Terrorism is social engineering carried out by psychopaths.

    The infinite quirks and limitless variations of human psychology will doom every static system meant to lock them down.

    And, no matter how much we might want to maintain the fantasy, it simply isn't true that there are "good" people and "bad" people. There are people. Some of them carry evil intent, and sometimes they perform evil acts.

    You can't screen for evil at the airport.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.