For counter-terrorism and other purposes such as border security and fraud prevention, U.S. Citizens are required to have Passports. Summer vacation travel is just ahead, and no doubt Immigration and Customs Enforcement will keep track of your comings and goings, primarily swiping the bar code. On my last visit to Canada, no one bothered to place a governmental stamp on our Passports; much to my children’s chagrin, who wanted proof that they were there.
According to a Fox report today, in June RFID -Radio Frequency Identifications will be in use at the Canadian border for frequently border crossings under a program called eGo starting June 1st. RFID windscreen sticker tags and driver identification cards, as well as installing inspection booth reader equipment have been in the works since 2003 for 99 FAST( Free and Secure Trade) lanes across 22 border crossings. http://www.usingrfid.com/news/read.asp?lc=m12627kx53zz
Customs Border Patrol agents must be heaving a sigh of relief as The FAST system forms an intelligent border crossing system that enhances trade flow and security along the borders.
In a separate computer system, The State Department maintains a huge data base of Passport Records including documents, photographs and information attached to passport applications and renewals. Records like your “application for a passport and copies of any supporting documents like birth or marriage certificates. That application has your address, Social Security number, phone number, the name and number of your emergency contact and your photograph…. A search by name or passport number can also dredge up other items that have been attached to the file, such as court orders, arrest warrants, financial reports and even medical reports, according to the public State Department records.” http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1724759,00.html
No big deal until one realizes that the huge separate database ran by the Bureau of Consular Affairs also allows the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counter-Terrorism Center, “foreign governments, and entities such as Interpol” to link into the same system. I do not believe The Privacy Act extends beyond our borders. Passport identification and authentication systems should be held securely by the government which issues the documentation. What happened to the Bill of Rights?
- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Without warrant, your data is available for the world and all its hackers and identity thieves. It would appear that no U.S. Government Agency or foreign need to seek permission to access or distribute your personal information. The more the access, the more risk to vulnerability. Civil society would dictate you own your own data and that you take reasonable steps to keep things like your social security number private. While many citizens think securities necessary, do the provisions of The Bill of Rights and The Constitution still apply? Are Americans are becoming far too accustomed to having their privacy violated? Are are borders really Constitution Free Zones as suggested by the ACLU? Does your name appear on the 1.2 million person Terrorist Watch List along with Nelson Mandella, or U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy? http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/watchlistcounter.html
Too bad all this databasing wasn’t available when Obama travelled to Jakarta and Karachi. A British Passport? An Indonesian Passport? An American Passport? His official birth certificate by all accounts should still be on file if he was issued a U.S. Passport.
In the UK Biometrics identification and national I.D. cards will be potentially operated by the Post Office and drug stores. The program allows people to scan fingerprints and facial photographs for storage on the cards and in a central database. http://news.zdnet.co.uk/security/0,1000000189,39649181,00.htm
In The U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, opposed REAL ID, even as a draft bill known as the PASS ID Act is floating around Congress. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/jamescarafano/A-REAL-homeland-security-test-44704387.html
“On your journeys- May passion be your wind, that leads you through the days, and may conviction keep you strong, Guide you on your way, May there be moments that make your life so sweet, Oh- but more than memories. “http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/m/mark_harris/find_your_wings.html
Looking for places to visit? The official site of 1000 places to see before you die is full of great ideas. http://www.1000beforeyoudie.com/SearchMap.aspx
photo props to http://www.flickr.com/photos/carnivillain/2830583713/