PASS ID ACT (paranoia)

Imagine (if you will) a place where you could be tracked when you traveled. The government kept records of who you are along with the most sacred personal documents that keep you unique and grant you democratic power. All of this information would be tracked on a small, convenient card that you would keep in your wallet. Easy to fit into the palm of your (or someone else’s) hand. Does this make you feel safe? Does it conjure up realistic visions of theft? Does it sound like the beginning of countless films in which someone if framed or has no identity? These types of scenarios may not be too far off for us citizens of the United States.

That may sound a bit paranoid, but the US is currently trying to pass a bill called the PASS ID ACT. It essentially takes the asks state governments to take the power and responsibility of keeping track of people away from the state and bring it to a federal level. The requirements for obtaining this ID are higher than that for a state driver’s license in that it requires and electronically stores identification information. In other words, it’s a one stop shop for identity thieves.

The Real ID Act passed in May 2005 on the coattails of a bill to increase funding for American troops in Afghanistan. The costs for implementation of the ID’s was unrealistic, and no state agreed to invest. Now the PASS ID ACT is an update if not a rewrite to the Real ID Act. The PASS ID ACT limits the official uses for which the ID can be scanned and makes it less expensive to implement. Ultimately, it’s the same thing.

Riding the post 9/11 paranoia we are seeing decisions being made that attempt to make people feel safer. This type of ID is harder to obtain and harder to forge. It’s supposed to make us feel better about the people around us. It can act as an alibi for or against crimes in that the scanning of the ID can save time/location information. If we think about it, what is the price for this empty feeling of security? As the social security rises, privacy and risk for identity theft raises at the same degree. The people who would attempt to pose as someone else at the expense of the law will not be deterred by this. If anything, it drives up the price of stolen identification on the black market.

The only realistic benefit that I can see to this Act is that people whose driver’s licenses are revoked for DUI or any number of reasons will not be able to cross a state line and simply get a new one. If the PASS ID ACT is the solution for this problem, then we are using a fire hose to put out a flame. The issue can be fixed by looking at how we handle criminal charges and communication between states. Throwing money at the problem is probably the worst solution anyone could think of (especially in these fiscally troubling times.)

On that note, if we are looking to see stability in the US economy anytime soon the PASS ID ACT would certainly not move us in the right direction. Forcing states to invest into new, untested technology could prove to be nothing but a waste. Not to say that new technology is bad. In fact I whole heartedly support the use and innovation across the board for usable technology. With that comes fiscal responsibility, which the PASS ID act does not seem to demonstrate.

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