Sunday, December 26, 2004

Travel papers

Story:
[U]nder legislation signed by President Bush last week, . . . state-issued [driver's] licenses will have to meet uniform national standards to be accepted as proof of identity for boarding airplanes, applying for federal benefits and other official U.S. government purposes. . . .

The law mandates that licenses have digital photographs; be resistant to tampering or counterfeiting; contain personal information like age, gender, home address and date of birth; and have that information encoded on magnetic strips that can be read by machines, similar to credit cards.
This all sounds very wise me. Not everyone agrees.
But civil libertarians worry the common driver's license is being transformed into a kind of national ID card that may allow authorities to follow movements and invade the privacy of innocent Americans.

"We are opposed to a national identification card because it creates a system where Americans must show their papers in order to travel," said Marv Johnson, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "This is something characteristic of dictatorships."
I like a lot of the work that the ACLU does, particularly in the area of free speech, but this is absolutely ridiculous. We already have to show our travel papers when we fly (our boarding pass and identification). This legislation simply tries to reduce the risk of forged identifications.