The New York Blawg Round Up
The New York Legal News Round Up

I'll Need to See Your Papers, Ma'am.

Drlogo11 This week's Legal Currents column, which is published in The Daily Record, is entitled "I'll need to see your papers,ma'am."  The article is set forth in full below, and a pdf of the article can be found here.

My prior articles can be accessed here.


I'll Need to See Your Papers, Ma'am

Once the exact identity or some demographics or other characteristics of the person have been determined, the person tracking unit relies on this information to track the person as the person moves through the roaming areas. The person tracking unit may assign a tracking number to each identified person and store the tracking number in association with the collection of RFID tagged product information.” — IBM U.S. Patent Application No. 20020165758; Identification and Tracking of Persons Using RFID-Tagged Items

In May 2005, as part of the Iraq War/Tsunami relief appropriations bill, Congress passed the Real ID Act.

This Act, scheduled to go into effect in May 2008, will require anyone living or working in the United States to have a federally approved identification card in order to open a bank account, travel on an airplane, collect Social Security payments or take advantage of virtually any government service.

It also is expected that all driver’s licenses will have to be re-issued by each state to meet federal standards set by Homeland Security.

The goal of the Act is to create a 50-state, interlinked database making the information in each person’s file available to all states and the federal government. As explained at the Department of Homeland Security’s Web site (www.dhs. gov/xprevprot/laws/gc_1172767635686.shtm): “DHS is proposing minimum standards that will appear on the face of the card. The proposed regulation would require each of the following on the face of REAL IDs; space available for 39 characters for full legal name; address of principal residence; digital photograph; gender; date of birth; signature, document number; and machine readable technology.”

Machine-readable technology options available to the states include Orwellian technology such as storing fingerprints or retinal scans into government-owned computer databases or using identification cards with embedded RFID chips.

RFID chips are a form of embedded technology that can be detected from up to 25 feet away. They can be used to pinpoint the location of pedestrians and individuals in vehicles traveling up to 55 miles per hour.

In late October, Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that outlines New York’s plan to become one of the first states to be fully compliant with the Real ID Act. Reports surfaced in mid-November stating that Spitzer appears to be backing away from this commitment, however.

I certainly hope so. Our privacy rights are being chiseled away on a daily basis across the country as the government continually seeks to obtain increasing amounts of information while offering less justification for the intrusion. It’s a slippery slope, and it seems we are barreling down the mountain at a high rate of speed while the brake lines on our collective vehicle seemingly have been cut.

Every time I learn of yet another instance of our liberties being washed away in our endless quest for safety from the nebulous concept of “terrorists,” I feel an ominous sense of foreboding. Our country has reached a crossroads and I, for one, am not at all comfortable with the direction it seems to have chosen.
And, now, a video explaining how trackable we all are as a aresult of the devices, such as RFID chips, that are being built into new technologies:


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