Nov 222010
 November 22, 2010  Posted by  Misc, Online

The following is a guest commentary by Sheila Dean.  Dean is the  blog editor for and a non-profit consultant on a variety of civil liberties, human rights and digital privacy campaigns. The views expressed below are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of You may contact Sheila at contact[at] or use the Comments section below to respond to her commentary.

According to recent reports, the Obama administration is making a new DHS national identity authentication program a high priority. The National Strategy for Trusted Identity in Cyberspace, expected to be signed by Obama this winter, is another program in a string of recent government attempts to centralize human identity in the US and abroad.

Immigration regulation and environmental disaster management are only a few of the scenarios driving demands for nationalized identity in government. India, a nation with a history of using emergency population control measures [1] recently adopted a national biometric identity system for it’s burgeoning 6.2 million people [2]. Germany, the nation most associated with the phrase “You’re Papers, Please?”, debuted another national identity program using RFID tags, a commercial pallette tracking technology,[3] November 1st. Even the UK, a nation whose ministry retracted plans this year for a national ID program, multiplied efforts [4] to bring about another ID card program through the national health care system.

In the US, national identity proponents continue to lobby proposals using a broad interagency strategy under Homeland Security. The increasing number of proposals range from emergency management, cybersecurity, immigration reform, healthcare reform, education reforms and even environmental policy. Contractors, like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are lining up to negotiate bids with legislative bodies over a national cybersecurity bill, the Federal Information Security Management Act. A bill weighing heavily on presumption and another ID card program (a).

The National Strategy for Trusted Identity in Cyberspace or NSTIC[5], “focuses on the protection of the identity of each party to an online transaction and the identity of the underlying infrastructure that supports it. This Strategy seeks to improve cyberspace for everyone – individuals, private sector, and governments – who conduct business online.”

It appears the business of data authentication is considered a recession proof boom when the government is buying. L-1 Solutions is a biometrics start up still living on the promise of State budget endorsements for the Real ID Act (b). Special interest groups like Coalition for a Secured Drivers License [CSDL] and private contractors pitch legislative candidates on many points of adopting regulated technologies. These include: convenience, a futurist amenity, identity security, and national security right up to population control[6] in the events of environmental or, as DHS defines, man made disaster.

PepsiCo mogul, Donald Kendall, and Coalition for a Secured Drivers License recently endorsed a proposal to push KIDS [7], a secured identity program for children into the next Congress. If it’s anything like the last program endorsed by CSDL, [Real ID] [8] there may be a proposal for a biometric identity card program in schools and subsidized youth centers.

In the spring of 2010, Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham proposed a new “hi-tech” tamper-proof social security card for every American to work [9]. If the US Senate moved ahead with worker ID cards it would require every business to fingerprint their employees or have the DMV perform the service. Fingerprinting is currently appropriated to public servants or prisoners in the criminal justice system. Local governments also become social test beds for program pilots in governed identity. The BostOne card [10] will incorporate RFID tags [11] in cards used by grade school children to check out books and board public transit.

However, by design any national identity program is purposed to track or control a nation’s population.

The notion that your government is tracking you as a number can be an uncomfortable prospect. Today birth records or citizenship documents are commonly referred to as “breeder documents” [12] at your local DMV.  Established systems, like Social Security, perpetuate the use of a single national identity number issued to the US individual [amid the great multiplying herd of American humanity.] The social security number, now used for identity verification by anyone from college loan officers to your telephone company, still has a clause on the back of cards saying “not for use as identification”.

Unfortunately, the current systems can and have been misappropriated by expanding the scope of purpose to create a dragnet for populaces in the United States with sometimes tragic results. The US census [13] was used to target  Japanese Americans in WWII for internment camps. Native Americans have been the most massive target for population control and extermination based inherently on identity in the United States.

As an interagency program[14], contractors, lobbyists and special interests groups are pushing for a comprehensive US identity system. Through NSTIC the Department of Homeland Security would be positioned to conveniently access your identity, reasons for working, studying or using a computer in the United States. What kind of America will it be when we voluntarily check in with DHS before we access use our cell phone apps or apply online for a job?

The short answer to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be based not on we decide, but on what DHS decides for us.






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