July 15, 1998
Two of the principal mechanisms by which the rulers
of 20th century police states maintained their control over
their people were the file and the internal passport.
These governments kept a cumulative file (called the
dangan in Communist China) on every individual's
performance and attitudes from school years through
adult employment. Citizens carried an internal passport
or "papers" that had to be presented to the authorities for
permission to travel within the country, to take up
residence in another city, or to apply for a new job.
These two methods of personal surveillance -- efficient watchdogs that prevented any emergence of freedom -- required an army of bureaucrats fortified by a
Gestapo, a Stasi or a KGB, plus the ability to commandeer an unlimited supply of paper and file folders.
Technology has now made the task of building personal
files on every citizen, and tracking our actions and
movements, just as easy as logging onto the Internet.
Unknown to most Americans, coordinated plans are
well underway to give the Federal Government the power
to input personal information on all Americans onto a
government database. The computer will record our
school, business, medical, financial, and personal activities, and track our movements as we travel about the
These plans were authorized by the so-called conservative Congress and are eagerly implemented and expanded
by the Clinton Administration liberals. They plan to
force all Americans to carry an I.D. card linked to a
federal database, without which we will not be able to
drive a car, get a job, board a plane, enter a hospital
emergency room or school, have a bank account, cash a
check, buy a gun, or have access to government benefits
such as Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Putting all that information on a government
database means the end of privacy as we know it.
Daily actions we all take for granted will henceforth be
recorded, monitored, tracked, and contingent on showing
Legislative authority for these dramatic changes in
what we endearingly call the American way of life was
buried in two bills passed by Republicans and signed by
Bill Clinton in 1996: the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigrant Responsibility Act, and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reform Act (known as
The illegal immigration law prohibits the use of state
driver's licenses after Oct. 1, 2000 unless they contain
Social Security numbers as the unique numeric identifier
"that can be read visually or by electronic means." (Section
656(b)) The act requires all driver's licenses to conform to
regulations promulgated by the Department of Transportation, which published its proposed regulations on June
17. (Federal Register, vol. 63, no. 116, pp. 33219-33225)
The illegal immigration law orders the Attorney
General to conduct pilot programs in at least 5 states
where the state driver's license includes a "machine-readable" Social Security number. (Section 403(c)) The law
also orders the development of a Social Security card that
"shall employ technologies that provide security features,
such as magnetic stripes, holograms, and integrated
circuits." (Section 657(a)) A "smart card" with these technologies can contain a digitized fingerprint, retina scan,
voice print, DNA print, or other biometric identifier, and
will leave an electronic trail every time it is used.
The law orders "consultation" with the American
Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. AAMVA,
a pseudo-private, quasi-government organization, has
long urged using driver's licenses, with Social Security
numbers and digital fingerprinting, as a de facto national
I.D. card that would enable the government to track
everyone's movements throughout North America.
The welfare reform law requires that, in order to
receive federal welfare funds, states must collect Social
Security numbers from applicants for any professional
license, occupational license, or "commercial driver's
license." (Section 317) The Balanced Budget Act of 1997,
in the guise of making "technical corrections" to welfare
reform, deleted the word "commercial," thereby applying
the requirement to all driver's license applicants, and
even added "recreational" (hunting and fishing) licenses.
Another provision of welfare reform requires employers, since Oct. 1, 1997, to transmit the name, address, and
Social Security number of every new worker to a Directory of New Hires. This is supposed to help track
deadbeat dads, but the information is collected from all
new workers (regardless of whether they are deadbeats or
even dads) and maintained for 24 months.
The "instant background check" established by the
1993 Brady Act takes effect nationwide on Dec. 1. Under
this system, prospective handgun buyers must be screened
against a database of convicted criminals. But the new
national I.D. card will make it easy to keep a database of
gun buyers, too, which some states reportedly are doing
already. Although the Brady Act forbids federal agencies
from using the instant check system to register firearms,
the FBI says it plans to keep records of prospective
handgun buyers for 18 months.
A few states have already quietly legislated acquiescence in the new federal requirements, but fingerprinting
and smart cards have stirred an uproar in others. Most
Americans have never been fingerprinted and look upon
it as something that happens only to criminal suspects.
The New Jersey Legislature recently abandoned efforts
to pass Governor Christine Whitman's high-tech driver's
license called "Access New Jersey." It was designed to
contain a computer chip with 100 electronic keys capable
of storing large amounts of personal data. It would leave
an electronic trail each time the card was used to cash a
check, make a purchase, pay a toll, check out a book, get
insurance authorization to see a doctor, or used for
identification, all identified by Social Security number. These new federal laws effectively overturn the 1974
Privacy Act, which declared that "It shall be unlawful for
any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to
any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by
law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his
Social Security account number." On the pretext of
catching illegal aliens, welfare cheats, deadbeat dads, and
criminals, these laws will subject law-abiding Americans
to the police-state apparatus of national I.D. cards linked
to coordinated government databases.
If you don't want the Federal Government to convert driver's licenses into a
national I.D. card that will allow Big Brother to build a computerized dossier on every
American, rush your comments by August 3 to Docket Management, Room PL-401,
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nassif Building, 400 Seventh St., S.W. ,
Washington, D.C. 20590 marked Docket No. NHTSA-98-3945.