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It’s not about control, is it?

Opinion Editorial
July 24, 2002

By Mike Krause

A scheme to nationalize the issuance and standards of the drivers license and to turn the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles into the local office the federal Department of Transportation and thus, presumably outside the authority of the Colorado Legislature ,has been stopped, at least for the time being, by Congressman Dick Armey (R-TX).

Last week the House Select Committee on Homeland Security began the process of marking up the creation of the new agency.

In his “Chairmans Mark” (<http://hsc.house.gov/legislation/mark.asp>) Mr. Armey specifically called for a ban on the creation of a National ID card. “The federal government will not have the authority to nationalize drivers licenses and other ID cards. Authority to design and issue these cards shall remain with the states”.

But its not as thought the proponents of a National ID didnt give it a heck of a try.

In February, using terrorism as their motive, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)an organization made up of state DMVsbegan lobbying congress for $100 million and the nationalization of the drivers license. In other words, a federal takeover ofwell, themselves.

In April, Representatives James Moran (D-VA) and Thomas Davis (R-VA) obliged them by introducing the “Drivers License Modernization Act of 2002” which would give Coloradoans nationalized drivers licenses featuring government controlled computer chips, biometric identifiers and a bunch of new databases, both governmental and private, linked to the cardall controlled by the Secretary of Transportation.

Then the White House got in on it, including the call for nationalizing drivers license issuance and standards and the application of “biometric identifiers to identification devices” in its outline for the new Office of Homeland Security.

(www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/book/index.html <http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/book/index.html>)

Of course the states may still seek to implement some elements of the nationalization scheme. Mr. Armey doesnt seek to tell the states how and to whom to issue ID cards and licenses, but does warn against trying to protect privacy and freedoms by taking them away, Check Mark continues, “The use of biometric identifiers and social security numbers with these cards is not consistent with a free society”.

None of the proponents of these schemes has ever adequately explained how further tracking; monitoring and scrutiny of the population will combat terrorism. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Centralized authority over identity verification would actually increase the risk of ID theft and the scope of harm when, and not if, it occurs. Moreover, a criminal or terrorist would actually be able to skirt other, multi- layered security measures with possession of the all important National ID.

For a detailed analysis of these flaws, see the Electronic Privacy Information Centers report, “Your Papers, Please: From the state drivers license to a national identification system”. (<http://www.epic.org/privacy/id_cards/yourpapersplease.pdf>)
Moreover, a National ID, replete with a government computer chip and multiple databases does little good without the corresponding requirement that it be carried at all times and surrendered to whatever government official may demand it, for whatever reason. Such a requirement would be the logical next step.

A National ID is an idea that just wont go away. History is replete with “Show us your papers” governments and as long as the heady drink of power is to be had there will be ever increasing calls to further enumerate, track and generally monitor the population.

Real “Homeland Security” requires a bold and free citizenry, actively engaged in our common defense, not the meek, frightened and powerless population that a “Show us your papers” government breeds.

Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

MIKE KRAUSE is a Research Associate with the Independence Institute

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: www.i2i.org

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

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