Are we moving towards an Orwellian 1984 scenario in the United States? Are we still truly the land of the free? Many are predicting severe limitations to our way of life in light of the impending requirement of a national ID card.
On May 10, 2005, Congress approved the Real ID Act as part of a military spending bill. President Bush is expected to sign the bill shortly.
So, whats the big deal? Currently, the federal government has no method for tracking citizens within the United States. If you fly to Las Vegas for a week, the government cannot track you without obtaining a warrant based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The Real ID Act potentially kills the advertising slogan, What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Effective May 2008, all Americans will be required to obtain federally approved ID cards containing electronically encoded personal information. The personal information will include your name, sex, address, date of birth and a digital photograph at a minimum. All of this information will be kept in a national database. Anyone without the ID card will be unable to fly, open a bank account, enter federal buildings and, most likely, obtain a job. In short, we are looking at a database that allows the federal government to track your every move, finances, spending activities, etc.
From a practical standpoint, the Department of Homeland Security will put forth specifications for the cards. It is believed that the cards will be issued through state DMV offices and may be incorporated into drivers licenses. To obtain the card, citizens will be required to produce a photo identification, proof of address, social security number card and possibly finger prints or retinal scans. The information will then be digitized and put into a federal database. The particularly scary element of this is that there are no limitations on what the can be required by the Department of Homeland Security. Can DNA samples be far behind?
Backers of the Act argue that it is needed to stop illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers licenses and prevent terrorists from hiding in the open. Opponents argue the cards constitute a national ID card, gross violation of civil rights and platform for massive identity theft. Whether you support the Act or not, it is undeniable that big brother will have you in his sights beginning May 2008.
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