The national ID card issue appears from time to time, lingers for several months, creates a flurry of controversy, and then moves to the back burner again. You might think that by now all of the arguments for and against a national ID card system have already been raised and thoroughly debated, but you would be wrong.
My cursory review of the issue reveals that this issue is still very much alive and the trend is ominous. The ultimate national ID card system is already well underway and growing. DNA database networks will be the national ID card system of the future.
Initially, a DNA profile was just a useful tool for solving a crime by positively identifying an individual, but a disturbing trend exists: police dragnets for DNA tests. Police in some locales now use them to test thousands of people searching for one criminal. In 1998, in northern Germany, police tested 16,400 people to match a mechanic to a rape-murder. The costs involved are enormous, the benefits are iffy at best, and the personal privacy and constitutional issues are obvious, but that's not the most disturbing part of this story. I dread the next step that is being proposed.
David M. Halbfinger writes, 'Some legal experts are now calling for an even more controversial use of genetic forensics: a national databank of DNA taken from every American at birth, solely for the purpose of criminal identifications. [Emphasis added.]
'Michael E. Smith, a University of Wisconsin law professor who led a working group for the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, said such a databank would remove the danger of racial discrimination in DNA testing, as well as the risk that law enforcement agents seeking genetic information would turn to hospitals and medical laboratories, eroding medical privacy rights.
'Even better, Professor Smith said, it would make DNA a true deterrent to crime, which it cannot be so long as the DNA databanks contain only information on known criminals and suspects. [Emphasis added.]
'The federal government's existing DNA database, by law, includes only material taken from convicted criminals and crime scenes. Increasingly, states including Louisiana and Virginia have authorized the collection of DNA from people arrested for rape, murder and other violent crimes, and in some states even for burglary and lesser charges. The law in most states is much less clear when it comes to the DNA of people merely suspected of a crime but not charged. Yet it is being tested.' [Emphasis added.]
You can bet that the results of these tests will be kept forever because: a) they exist, b) they are in police custody, c) they are already paid for, and d) as a police officer, you never know when they might come in handy down the road. It doesn't take a mental giant to dream up nightmare scenarios from this dubious practice.
'Future prosecutions could be undermined, some legal scholars, defense lawyers and even some prosecutors say. Some question whether the dragnets' limited success justifies the effort and expense. And even those who endorse the idea of DNA sweeps argue over whether ' and why ' the government should keep on file the genetic profiles of those who are proved to be innocent. The tests trouble some for the very reason that police find them attractive: they offer the most incontrovertible proof of identity.' [Emphasis added.]
The trend is clear: DNA testing is already making the transition from solving crimes to deterring them, but in order to do that effectively everyone will need to be tested. That's where the State enters the picture. Here's what I suspect will happen.
Your DNA profile will be digitized, stored, and uploaded onto a smart card that will be required for almost everything you buy, use, or consume: alcohol, books, groceries, drugs, sex toys, cigarettes, ammo, birth control pills, and medical services. You will need your smart card for welfare benefits, traffic stops, buying a home, cashing a check, or buying a gun. The system will be sold as part of the Total Information Awareness program and federal law will require it in the name of national security.
Unlike an SSN, your DNA profile will be public domain information that will be easily accessed via the web and protected by strong public key encryption. Card readers will be everywhere: in every police car, post office, bank, school, federal building, court house, bar, liquor store, gas station, doctor's office, toll booth, computer, and cell phone.
Tracking who's doing what where will be a piece of cake because it will be quick and automatic, with multiple personal data points entered daily, including time and date stamps, 24/7/365. Broadband web service and ubiquitous cell phones will make this a no-brainer by the end of the decade. Adding a digital photo and a secret PIN to the smart cards will improve security and offer some protection against use by identify thieves. Eventually, smart cards will be unnecessary because implants like Digital Angel will replace them at birth. You will never have to worry about losing your smart card. My, how convenient.
Law-abiding citizens will become even more oblivious to the reality of their situation. The sheeple will support it because it will all be done 'for the children.' Surely, you don't think that the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, the Transportation Security Agency, and Total Information Awareness exist in order to protect your freedom and privacy, do you?
This national ID card system won't be cheap, but not to worry, the taxpayer will pick up the tab. Let's see, 235 million people, at $435 each, just for the DNA testing, comes to . . . oh, never mind. In the War Against Terrorism, cost is no object to the State.
Of course, none of this will stop criminals, terrorists, or free men because they all operate by their own set of rules, not the State's. That's why they're called outlaws--and I will be one of them.