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United States

US Congress Debates National ID Card 320

razorwire writes "Via HNN: Wired News is reporting that a 1996 law to require Social Security numbers on drivers' licenses may be amended to require digital records of your fingerprints and other personal data to be stored in an embedded chip. Sounds very creepy to me. "
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US Congress Debates National ID Card

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just don't understand the paranoia that some people have about giving out their social security number...

    It's not the number itself, it's the potential ease with which all the other details of your life can be linked TO that number.

    The US government, particularly the FBI, has been known to follow, wiretap, and target for harrassment people who simply believed that some of what the government was doing is wrong. Do you want your entire life history to be accessable to any government minion who happens along? Do you honestly expect that when the minion scans your ID card, and up pops the fact that you belong to an organization that she happens to hate, that her "professionalism" will keep her from screwing you over if she can? Get real.

    Knowledge is power, and the government has real big guns. They don't need to know everything about everyone... but they want to anyway. That's what people are paranoid about.
  • Everyone uses the SS number to index their databases. Your name and your SS number is all I need to get detailed credit info on you, your traffic history, your police history and probably your medical history too. Everything I would need to BECOME you, for all intents and purposes.

    With each step the government takes to try to index and control everyone, they make it more likely that the only way you will be able to guarantee your privacy is to hack the system, and there WILL be people who can hack the system. What a drag it would be to get pulled over on for a traffic violation and be arrested because some terrorist stole your identity and was travelling on it. What a drag it would be to apply for a loan for that dream house or a car and be denied because the woman you were dating in the tax offices got pissed when you broke up with her and put a bunch of nasty stuff in your credit history.

    As government tracking gets more complex, it becomes more and more likely that people will believe the computer even if it's obviously wrong. If the data in the computer is in error, it will be your responsibility to prove it wrong. There is no "Innocent until proven guilty" here. Get a copy of "Brazil" and watch it because that's where our government is taking us.
  • Your fingerprints are at home? How do you do that? Did you cut your fingers from your hand?

    Can it be that you are confusing the fingerprints of cryptosystems (like PGP) and your real fingerprints of your fingers?
  • Reminds me of an interview I saw with a law professor during the whole Lewinski thing. The reviewer pointed out that it's illegal to release any grand jury testimony to the general public, as congress had done with Clinton's.

    The law professor stated that as congress had passed the law, they could make an exception to it any time they wanted. If that don't send shivers down your spine...

  • You have some sort of state-issued ID card, though, don't you? Same thing. Driver's licence == Identification.

    Or so we assume. A few years ago in Washington state some local banks said they would stop accepting state DMV-issued identification cards as valid ID. Only actual driver's licenses were acceptable. Apparently they thought that anyone who doesn't drive a car (such as myself at the time) was automatically less trustworthy. Even though it's possible to get a driver's licence which is designated as "invalid for identification". (We don't know who you really are, but sure, you can drive...) Whereas a non-license ID card requires positive proof of identity (passport, birth cert., etc.) to obtain.

    Fortunately, people (many senior citizens, for example) opposed the idea, and the banks dropped it.

    BTW, I don't think the DMV has your fingerprint. I know I never gave them mine.
  • Bah. It's already here.

    Just give people a little financial incentive and they'll be lining up to get national - no, INTERnational - ID cards. Multiple ones, in fact.

    Because we already have such a thing. No single number, but trackable nonetheless. Without it, you can't "live a normal life and do the everyday things most Americans take for granted", as the Wired article says. And with far more intrusive and pernicious uses and abuses available to those who issue them, who are less accountable and more power-hungry than the goverment could ever be.

    It's called a credit card.
  • > it should be a privilege that one elects to
    > exercise, not a 'right' that is imposed by the
    > system.

    A privilege is something you must earn, which allows you to voluntarily do something. Driving is a privilege (not a right, as many Americans might think!)

    A right is something which you innately have, which allows you to voluntarily do something.
    Voting is a right.

    A responsibility/obligation is something which is imposed on you (either voluntarily or involuntarily) which requires you to do something even if you don't want to. Obeying the law is a responsibility.

    Rights can't be imposed. Obligations can't be waived.
  • This is just one more step toward requiring us to have the number 666 stamped on our foreheads and not allowing us to buy food without it.

    I for one am totally against this, and will refuse it.

    If I am not allowed to board an airplane without one, I guess I will end up having to drive cross-country.

  • There are a finite number of jobs in America. Jobs are a resource.
    Those Mexicans would have been employed by the US one way or another. They can be employed in Mexico or the US, but the products always end up this side of the border eventually.

    Now, the question is: do we employ them in this country or another country? If they are employed in this country people will feel a certain duty to let them live half-way decently -- not terribly well (proposition 187), but with some basics. But if they live in Mexico they can be payed little, die young, pollute their lands, have their unions busted and be put on blacklists, and then get roughed up just for trying to get someplace better.

    Obviously there are those who want to keep them in Mexico, keep the living standard high by exporting our slums. But it's shameful, undefensible, immoral. People use bullshit economics to defend it, but that's all it is. Half the time they don't even bother to make up real economic theories. Neoliberalism, the IMF, NAFTA, the new world order...

    Isn't there something wrong about a world that can make more and do more than ever before, yet most of the people are living worse than ever?

    Yeah, it's a shame that people are starving and dying. But we can't save everyone, nor should we try. Coddling the weak produces more weak.
    That quote is probably more of a condemnation of your ideas than anything I could say. It's cruel, patronizing, and ignorant all at once.
  • Lesse:

    mortage: required credit check, employment check and maybe an anal probe or two.

    credit card(s) credit check

    home equity loan: credit/employment check, one anal probe.

    leased car: credit check, employment check

    monthly bills: check sent w/ bank name and acct number + home addy and phone

    driver's license: photo id - hey, I still look like the picture!!! - finger print.

    Lord knows where all this info is stored and who has access to it. Fer example. At the time I had enough equity in my house to get the equity loan, I started magically receiving boatloads of junk mail from people and orgs I had never heard of offering me up to 50K. Now, was that just coincidence? I don't think so. So, right now, this very moment, there is so much info on me out there that I almost feel like I'm on a billboard somewhere w/ all my financial vitals, work history, education and marital status listed right next to my blown-up driver's lic. pic. Maybe I'll just go ahead and get that barcode tatto.
  • Maybe the sponsor wants to make employing people without a social security number illegal?

    Isn't it already illegal? Don't you have to show your social security card when you fill out a W-4 or I-9? Since they tax your income, they need your SSN. Seems like you shouldn't be able to have any job other than possibly mowing yards or a lemonade stand without having a SSN, at least not legally.

  • The problem here in America is that the government no longer represents the poeple. It just intends to control them. Unfortunately, with the massive amounts of media avialable to people today, they don't seem to have the attention span to think about anything so mundane as what's happening in Congress. Why watch CSPAN when they can just hit the clicker and watch David Hasselhoff and Pam Anderson running in slow motion down the beach?

    The problem isn't that Americans care about things that they shouldn't care about... it's that they don't care about things that they should care about. You seem to think that it doesn't matter if some government worker can punch your SSN into a computer and find out what you had for breakfast, what videos you rent, where you go on vacations, what you purchase with your credit cards, what websites you frequent, what your political beliefs are, etc. I say it's none of their damn business! Why do they need this info? Why should they be allowed to have it or use it? Who will own the info? Will the government sell it to anyone with the cash to buy? Do enough people in this country still have the mental capacity to oppose this with enough unity and vehemence to keep the government from doing what they damn well please whether we like it or not?

    Those are my questions. Anyone have the answers?

    Maybe someday we'll realize that career politicians are a bad idea.

  • It's not just the president.. it's the vast majority of people in office.

  • "Sorry officer, I was standing too close to a magnetic field."

    "I forgot to change the batteries."

    "Wouldn't you know it, WindowsID crashed."

    *Do not fold, spindle or mutilate*


    The senator that wants to introduce this is aiming to use it to curb illegal immigration. Based on his comments, I doubt that he was aware of privacy concerns at the time.

    Also be aware that everyone's favorite organization, the ACLU, is already all over this, warning of its privacy violations for trying to something as 'bad' as illegal immigration.

  • You don't need an SSN, just evidence of identity and work authorization and a Taxpayer ID Number (which any person can get including illegal aliens apparently). In fact the SSA will no longer give out SSN's to legal non-resident aliens.
  • Bah. I've been carrying gov. ID since I was fifteen. Except for Britain, most everybody does in Europe. It's no big deal, get used to it.

    Besides, the drivers license is pretty much the same thing...
  • It was fairly obvious as a satirical reference.
    queen VALVOLENE?

    Do you think Erisians and Slackers are SERIOUS?
  • It really isn't that far from what we have now, when you think about it. How many times have you had to give your social security number or other personal information to get a job. Have you bought anything from Radio Shack lately?

    We really don't have all that much privacy to lose.

    If you give out your SS number to Radio Shack you deserve the Identity rape you are about to suffer.

    PS If they do rape you... just lay back and relax and enjoy it! =0

  • Iv'e heard of this, sounds painful.
  • Tennessee (which I admit is a backwards state) just passed an amazingly good law. As of January 2000 we won't have our SSN's on our driver's licenses. Of course, I guess this national ID would override our state law and void one of the best laws I've seen come out of our legislature...
  • There is a new group that has formed to oppose mandatory SSN and fingerprint collection in order to obtain a Texas driver's license. It seems like their interest is a class action lawsuit. If you want information see their web site at (no domain name yet) or write to get on the mailing list:
  • Good work up there with Toledo Edison. Here in Columbus, American Electric Power (AEP) gave me no problems, but it was hard working with Columbia Gas and Ameritech, in particular the latter, they get really annoyed with me when I complain about SSN collection.

    The Ohio law which allows a person to remove their SSN from their driver's licenses came up one or two years ago, and really, it is just a courtesy as opposed to anything of consequence. They still are collecting them, and using them for the strangest of purposes.

    At any rate, the real reason for its existence is The Akron Beacon Journal vs. the City of Akron. In that case, in 1994, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that government organizations in Ohio which disseminate SSN's may be held liable for damages as a result. (We don't have the sovereign immunity concept here in Ohio.) That's why that law was made, that's why our tax returns this year didn't have the SSN's in bold on the return label, and there are some other changes being made around the state as a result.

    My privacy organization here at Ohio State ( has figured out that this court case is our biggest friend in getting the university to change their policies. If any Buckeyes out there are interested, my privacy organization is going to be become a full organization in Ohio.
  • Colorado, Texas, Georgia and I believe Hawaii are the only fingerprinting states. Alabama tried to bring those laws in, and failed. California I believe used to have them, and dumped them in 1996.

    At you can find info on opposition to fingerprinting in Texas. At you can find information on work going on in Georgia concerning repealing of the fingerprinting laws. There are about four or five bills being considered right now in the Georgia legislature, I am under the impression that the opposition is strongest there, and it is most likely the first state to stop collection.
  • -208-immigration.html

    I would post them, but they are on the long side.
  • According to page4-winners-losers.html

    The current fingerprinting states are:

    (possible) West Virginia

    At you can find information on opposition to fingerprinting in Texas. At you can find information on opposition to fingerprinting in Georgia.
  • In my home state, Ohio, it is law that a person has to have car insurance. Well, if the insurance company is willing to insure someone, that means that they are saying that they are at least somewhat competent to drive. If that's the case, why do we even have driver's licenses? Let the insurance companies give out the "licenses", and the license plates. Don't have a current expiration sticker? Your insurance must have run out.

    The insurance companies can run us through a battery of tests if they like in order to figure out whether we can handle insurance or not. If the insurance companies become a little weird, we can always regulate them...far easier for a government to regulate someone else than it is for a government to regulate itself.
  • Usually you can avoid a lot of SSN use. First, at least at OSU, if you don't get financial aid, and don't work for the university, you can avoid using the SSN completely. Next, at least here, it is against university policy for professors/ta's to request SSN's on homework, tests, exams, to post them outside of their offices for grade purposes, and they are not on the ID cards. Nevertheless, many of those things occur, and it takes vigilance to keep them at a minimum. Hopefully, soon, professors and ta's will no longer even be given their students SSN's, because, well, that is completely assinine.
  • > Some of that is useful. I had my finger prints taken as a child for help in a missing persons case.

    Actually, I wrote an article []on that subject.

    To the contrary, I disagree. I have not heard of a single instance where it has been found useful, and, as I point out, it was just part of some strange scare at the time period. It is rarely done anymore.

  • Actually yes they can, but you have to pay a $5 fine, and show proof of their existence.
  • They are available here [].
  • You rock. Thank you for knowing what I meant in my reference to the movie Naked. For those who never saw it, it's essentially an onslaught of dialogue by a degenerate who reads a lot (pseudo-intellectual?). Highly recommended if you're not easially offended.

    Tatty-bye-bye, Bri!

  • by bjb ( 3050 ) on Friday July 23, 1999 @03:26AM (#1788575) Homepage Journal
    "..and upon each man will bear the mark of the beast.."
    -- or something like that.. see: bible

    "..the mark! They are going to put an ID on each persons' hand.."

    -- or something like that.. see: Naked (movie)

    "The mark is on everything.. the UPC symbol! Doesn't the bible say something that without the mark people won't be able to buy, sell or trade? It's the UPC symbol!"

    -- or something like that.. see: not sure where that came from

    "How could they steal your identity?"

    -- or something like that... See: The Net

    "Never give out any information"

    -- or something like that... See: mama


    -- or something like that... See: Anonymous Coward

  • "..and upon each man will bear the mark of the beast.."

    There may be another reference to it, but here's a more specific quote:

    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich
    and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in
    their right hand, or in their foreheads:

    And that no man might buy or sell, save that he
    had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the
    number of his name

    Revelations 13:16 & 13:17
  • It provides a gripping point for the tool to be applied.
  • This kind of stuff has been talked about through history -- its so Orwellian its scary. This kind of stuff is even talked about in the Bible (mark of the beast?) when telling what to expect regarding the end of civiliation.

    Dont call me religious or anything -- its just something to think about ;)

    Dave Brooks (
  • Social(ist) (in)Security Numbers are, officially, not supposed to be used for much beyond tax identification, and provision of SS benefits.

    Not that anyone cares, of course. The government already has these numbers anyway, so that's not an issue. The real danger comes from the private sector.

    Try to open a bank account anywhere in the States without one. Try to go to any school, even a private school or a high school. Try to work, well, anywhere.

    Good luck.

    Granted, this is hideously bad law. Wretechedly so. Fingerprints, SSN, DNA, and so on don't belong on your ID (usually). But there are far worse spectres than Big Brother.

  • And while we're already waxing paranoid on this subject, is anyone else bothered by the routine foot/fingerprinting of children? What's next? Their SSN/barcode tatooed above their hairline?

    No need to put it above the hairline. It's easy enough to add them so they are only visible in infrared and not in the visible spectrum. They could put them right on your forehead.

    The technology is already out there.
  • My personal opinion is that we already HAVE a national ID card. It's just that most people don't take the time to get one. We call them Passports.

    But most people will never get one, so it's clear that we need some form of identification.

    It's been a kludge for agencies to use the SSN as a substitute for a national Identity Number. What does access to my Social Security Fund have to do with who I am?

    The other seeming rediculous form of Identity is the driver's license. Many states have given up telling people that it's not for ID and offer "walker's licences" so that people who don't drive can have an ID card.

    The bottom line is that in a world full of databases, I would rather have a central ID number associated with a PIN or retinal scan or finger print than what we have now. It's horribly easy to steal someone's identity by getting their SSN number. That's what scares me.

    So I welcome a national ID number system as long as it's combined with a user controlable confirmation.

    John -
  • Interest at banks is taxed, that's why they
    say they need it. As far as schools, yeah my
    school ID was my SSN. I knew a guy who, given
    the option, picked a different number. That
    haunted him for years, with people in the
    administration CONSTANTLY assuming his SSN was
    his ID number. Completely annoying.

  • Freedom from licking envelopes ain't quite the freedom I'm interested in.

    An electronic ID card leading to e-money? Not unless it's a 'smart' card. Which is an oxymoron if there ever was one.

  • How many of the migrant workers do you think are illegal aliens? I'd bet a *very* significant portion are. Maybe the farmer shouldn't ask questions, but I know that there are people in America, legal citizens, unemployed, who could use work of any kind.

    Baby sitters, etc.? They work for individuals, on a very temporary basis. What this is supposed to provide is a method of positively identifying someone, with less possibility of forgery, in my mind. If you hire a baby sitter, you're going to hire someone you know, or someone who comes from a similar situation to yours. You're not going to put an ad in the classifieds asking for a baby sitter. If you did, you'd probably be looking for something a bit more permanent, and in that case, knowing positively who they were would be a very good thing. I would never leave a kid for an extended period to someone I didn't know.

    Lawn mowers? Again, I've got to think that that would be the neighborhood kid, not someone you actively search for. If you are searching for someone, it's probably going to be the neighborhood kid that you find, again someone you would know.

    Wood carvers? Self-employed. If you're looking to buy a wood carving from someone, no, you don't need to know who they are.

    I think you have to look at this as it's intended. For business/government, where positive identification without possibility of forgery is important. I don't think it's a bad idea.

    -David Ziegler
  • According to the article, Lamar smith is "doggedly opposed to illegal immigration." Before we assume that he's out to be Big Brother, you've gotta wonder if he knows the possible implications here. It's a worrisome idea to most, I'm sure, but I don't know it's all that bad.

    Having your social security number is not really a big deal. Where I live, my SSN is printed right on my driver's license. Having my fingerprint encoded on it, yes, that might be weird. However, I've really got to think that anything like this might not really be all that bad. What could possibly lead to more security would certainly not be a bad thing, and having a license which would be much more difficult to forge would be good. I've seen friends with fake licenses - certainly not anything professional, but what they did with an inkjet printer is amazing - you'd never know with a casual glance at one of these that they weren't real.

    I especially loved the part from the ACLU... "We don't need a national ID card to be the legacy of efforts to keep undocumented people from working." Maybe I'm ignorant, but who's undocumented? I can't think of a circumstance where you would be legally in this country and working and not be documented. It seems impossible.

    Smith at first strikes me as somewhat naive - not realizing what a privacy debate he's sparking - but before he gets flamed to death, he might have a good idea. He might not be going at it right, but it's not a bad idea. And really, if you're that worried about the government knowing your personal information, just think about what they can do without you knowing it...

    -David Ziegler
  • Actually, given sufficient time and sandpaper, you can remove your fingerprints such that they will never return. The "finger-dust" could well be left at home. With legislation like this, I'll be quick to find my sandpaper before my license comes up for renewal in three years.
  • by Ares ( 5306 )
    Agreed. But I'd gladly endure it if it meant that me and about 4 million other people shared the same set of unidentifiable fingerprints.
  • During the previous go-round of driver's license redesigns here in Minnesota, the DPS (Dept. of Public Safety) felt it necessary to place magnetic stripes on the card. My first task upon receiving it: Bulk Eraser. I figure if a cop wants to get information about me, I'm not going to help him/her. He/she can at least take the donut out of the other hand first.

    "Smart" ID cards: I'll probably whip me up a small AC voltage amplifier to fry out any chip contained therein.

  • You know, it occurs to me that a genetic
    algorithm could very likely generate a
    plausible fingerprint that would map to
    almost any id.
  • Its funny, but this kinda of thing doesn't happen as much in countries with a lower crime rate. I'm not saying its the answer, or the sole reason for this kind of thing, but it is certainly a factor.
  • AC writes:

    The only person that is going to be screwed by this is the guy that gets National ID #666. :-) My social security number isn't 666 so I guess I am ok. ;-)


    Naw, it could be 1010011010 (Binary of the Beast)
    29A (Hexidecimal of the Beast...)

  • by nosilA ( 8112 )
    The biggest difference now is that the number *and* fingerprints must be readable by LEA's and by airports, possibly some retail stores, border patrols, employers, schoosl, landlords, anyone who needs to prove you're a legal US resident for whatever reason.

    Very few states require SSN's visibly anymore, although not all states inform you of the right to chooses.

    Legally a state (or any other entity) can not require you to divulge your SSN.

    Imagine a world where you can go to a computer store and they have the capability to check if you stole 15 cents worth of candy when you were 6.

    Or more importantly, a world where just about everyone has access to everyone else's SSN's, so Tax Fraud and Credit Theft become trivial.

    We already have precious little privacy and every little bit we give away takes us one step closer to 1984. We cannot simply give up just because we've already lost so much.

    And we haven't lost much. It's incredibly easy in this country to invent a person. The US army thinks that a name invented to funnel junk mail by a friend of mine was a high school senior who might be interested in enlisting a few years ago.

    Computing and data resources are getting to where that sort of mistake won't be possible anymore soon. That is precisely why it's becoming Orwellian.

    -Alison (I'm in a paranoid mood this week anyway)
  • The law does not take effect until this October, and even then the SSN does not have to be visible, it can be electronically encoded. Currently VA licenses (at least mine which expires this october) don't have any bar code or magnetic stripe on it, but that will obviously change.

    (from the original law)
    (ii) Social security number.--Except as provided in
    subparagraph (B), the license or document shall contain a
    social security account number that can be read visually or
    by electronic means.

    The DOT does not want SSN's to be required, the ACLU doesn't want SSN's to be required, and Congress 30 years ago didn't want SSN's to be required. Unfortunately all we need is 274 + 51 + 1 people to want it and there's nothing we can do until next November.

    It is illegal for *you* to use your SSN as ID, so just refuse on the basis that the laws are contradictory.

    -yeah, I'm tired too DeathB... I woke up earlier than you!
  • When my wife and I moved to MA, they made the driver license # the same as the SSN, so I don't really have the option of removing my SSN from the card. ;)
  • Im tired of new laws, new regulations, and new taxes. I dont like it, Dont fuck with me.
  • You have to ask for your SSN not to be used, they'll give you another number starting with "S".

    I remember a conspiricist group giving a presentation at my high school in 1974 about SSNs and drivers licenses. They told me how to get my SSN off my drivers license and I did it then.
  • Check out Dodd 69:13,

    "And in what the false prophets called the last days, nether peoples reviled the primary key as a mark of the normalization. But as it was in the beginning, before the first form, Dodd looked out across creation and announced the database to be good, because it was pleasing to him.

  • It won't be that much different? Well sure, it's just like putting bar codes on your forehead. Geez us! Get a frickin' clue. And how exactly is this going to stop illegal immigration? People are still going to get in the country. And, since this stuff will most likely be digital or magnetic. All you have to say is that the little tiny IC's broke, or that you put your license under the magnet on your fridge. And let's not forget about the issue of privacy. If this did go through, it's quite possible that they will have a standard "reader" for the card, and someone could get a hold of it, and get a hold of your card, thus getting access to your personal information.

    That's just my two cents.

  • And this is why:

    First of all, read what he has to say about these National ID Cards:

    "Please be alert to misinformation regarding section 656(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, a law passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. Some claim that section 656(b) creates a "national ID card" and attempt to link the provision with various far-fetched conspiracies involving the federal government.
    I do not support a national ID card and don't know anyone who does. I do support reasonable measures that prevent aliens from using fraudulent documents to obtain jobs and government benefits."

    Then take a look at his web page's title on it.

    "National ID Card? Not!"

    He sounds very lost, first he wants it, then he says he doesn't support it. Then he wants to keep out illegal aliens, blah blah blah. The FBI says Raphael Ramirez had 4 SSN's, blah blah, this will help prevent that. Blah blah. How man miniorities are serial killers? Really? Hardly any. Sure immigrants commit crimes, but serial killers? That's left for the whites. Sheesh.

    You can see Lamar Smith's page at []


  • The problem is convenience. Too many people all over the world are willing to give up more and more of their freedom just so things may be a little be easier. Sure, it'd be great to have just ONE card for everything, but I'm not willing to do it. We have hardly any freedom left in America, and I'm doing what I can to keep mine.

  • It seems to me that people are still under the impression that they have privacy. There is none. The government already has your personal information. It is an illusion that they can't get to it without a warrant. Having you carry it with you is probably not so bad an idea. Besides, the SSN can't be used for anything but tax and social security purposes. The fingerprint thing scares me, but hey, if we ever use biometric authentication for things (fingerprints, retinal scans, voiceprints) they'll be in databases, too. It seems to be a good idea if not misused, but keep in mind that they have all the information now anyway, and you don't know what they can do with it.
  • I really doubt that there is a 1996 law requiring SSN's on driver's licenses. Considering how many states started removing it, or giving you the option to remove it around that time, it just wouldn't make sense. Besides, your SSN is never supposed to be used as an ID number outside of tax purposes. ( not that many people follow this, but it is true )
  • If all of the states are ignoring it, does it really matter?
  • OK, must remember to have coffee BEFORE posting in the future. What I mean is that it doesn't have to be visible on your license, meaning that any person you show your license to doen't now know your SSN.
  • Many states that use your SSN by default as your drivers licence number will issue you an alternate number if you refuse to provide your SSN. You can generally refuse to give your SSN to other orginizations that request them (other than your employer, for obvious reasons). There are laws regarding who is permitted to require SSNs.
  • It seems difficult to believe that he could be totally unaware of privacy concerns, unless he had never thought about that sort of thing in his life. In addition, this bill was voted for by a majority of the members of his subcommitte (at least that's how I read the article) and this was after heavy lobbying by the ACLU, among others. So it seems like they knew, but did not particularily care about privacy concerns.
    I wasn't sure exactly what you were saying about the ACLU, but they should not be criticized, least of all on this issue. They very much support our position of protecting privacy.
    Finally, I fail to see exactly how this would cut down on legal immigration. It seems to impose no addtional barriers to entry or employment in the United States, and those who legally immigrate should be able to get a card of their own. Maybe the sponsor wants to make employing people without a social security number illegal?


  • I don't quite follow your logic here. The ACLU supports the current President (according to you - they don't endore politicans) and therefore they won't criticize congressional efforts to limit your privacy? Where's the connection?

    Furthermore, your claims are in direct contradication to the easily availible evidence. Check out this ACLU page [] for more information on their campaign against this law, and to send a fax to your members of congress uring them to repeal it.

    (I also am not sure about your claim of use of the IRS against enemies - what site are you refering to?)


    ps - the nazi tatoos were on the arm, not the wrist

  • I was telling my girlfriend about this story, and she said "But our driver's licenses don't have SSNs on them."

    I looked; she was right (unless it's encoded in that funky barcode on the back).

    Jay (=
  • "If He's a US Senator and isn't aware of the privacy issues"

    Right away your statement logically returns a zero. The man is a Representative, or a Congressman, but NOT a Senator. (Look at the roots of the words...he IS in the House of Representatives, he IS a member of Congress, but he is NOT a member of the Senate. Make sense now?)

    Makes one wish people would either read the article, or open it in another window so they can give their short-term memory/poor reading comprehension a rest when they consider themselves to be capable of CONTRIBUTING to a discussion.

    If you are going to be argumentative and/or judgemental, at least do it with facts that really exist...
  • Bullshit! We have laws about immigration for a reason. We cannot be the worlds welfare state. If they want to come to the United States to work then there are procedures to do that. Millions do it every year.

    Why don't we worry about making sure our Citizens all have jobs and are fed before we start whining about the Mexicans. They have their own country and if they want a better life, they need to read up on The Sons Of Liberty and then follow their example.

    I'm sick and tired of hearing this liberal crap about the poor and downtroden. What we need is better fences!!!
  • I think they should be putting all this information in a chip/transmitter and implanting it in our bodies. That way you would never lose it, and as an added bonus the police you could use it to track criminals. In fact, you could make little rockets that would home on the signal, so the cops wouldn't even have to get out of thier cars. And rather than pulling people over for speeding, they could just get a reading of your driver's license and mail you the ticket. And when companies wanted to do a background check, it would include where you've gone, what you've bought, and who you were with for as far back as they want to go. The options are limitless!

    Using Microsoft software is like having unprotect sex.

  • Unaware of privacy, or unconcerned?

    Note that he is also opposed to LEGAL immigration...

    Note also that this is ALREADY a law. Privacy advocates are trying to REPEAL the damn thing, which is infinitely more difficult than blocking it in the first case...

    Question: which party will support repealing this law? The top dog Democrat was the guy that signed this bill in the first case. Billy has yet to champion any civil liberties issues, so don't count on the democrats.

    That leaves the Republicans. With a slim 6-person majority, there are dozens of 6-man coalitions that can BLOCK anything. Any 6 can block the repeal on a floor vote! Assuming it evens gets to the floor. The head of the committee is against it. Now just ask yourself: What are the chances that there are 5 other Republicans who don't like them damn foreigners?

    Ron Paul and a few others had pushed for a scaling back of FinCen thinking that the Anti-Know Your Customer momentum would carry it through. But a little Law and Order briefing from Reno and wham, that was dead.

    So yes, privacy advocates, go medieval. Defeating Know Your Customer was just a minor skirmish. The fascists have come back with avengeance.
  • Yes, the SSA did limit who could use the SSN. But since that was created by Congress, there's nothing to stop Congress from changing it...
  • Actually, we just need DC to secede. Wait 'til Congress is in session, or maybe at the State of the Union when they actually show up for "work" (cause the TV is there for that), and then turn the Beltway into a moat and don't let anyone out.
  • Yes, but how tough will the state politicians be when their citizens aren't allowed on airplanes. The citizens will DEMAND that their privacy by violated.
  • > from what I understand, it should be illegal to use the SSN

    And who made it illegal? Congress. So if Congress decides that they can now be your national citizen ID, who's to say they can't. If they wanted, they could also require you to give your SSN to bathroom attendants.
  • The 1996 law has not yet been implemented. It was GOING to be implemented last year, but privacy advocates managed to get it delayed. Not revoked, just delayed. Go back to sleep, Congress said. We won't rape you while you sleep.
  • He hates ALL immigrants, even the legal ones. They keep taking all the good jobs.

    This type of xenophobic fascism is not typically associated with people who believe in civil liberties, so aware or not, he won't let the moniker of Big Brother stop him from ridding his country of people who are different from him.
  • > ...officially, not supposed to be used for much beyond tax...

    People keep saying this like it came down from God or something. There's nothing in the Bill of Rights to forbid use of SSNs. It was Congress that made up that rule and, when expedient, Congress will revoke it.
  • Like he's just gonna come out and admit that he's opposed to the Bill of Rights...

    "It's not a National ID Card... it just has all the features of one..."
  • Well, the law was not the SSA but rather the Privacy Act of 1974. What it says is that IF they ask you for it, they must provide you with a "Privacy Act Disclosure Notice".

    This notice must state the authority that gives them the to ask, and whether or not it is voluntary.

    If they want to grant new agencies the authority to ask, they are still free to do so. They do NOT need to amend the Privacy Act, they simply have to tell you what law is violating your privacy.

    See http://www.cpsr.or g/cpsr/privacy/ssn/SSN-History.html#PrivacyAct []

  • Agreed. This "one standard ID" will serve as an index key to your entire life - your medical records, purchases, bank transactions, etc. It's a very dangerous proposition.

    This is funny - A very similar technique already used to copy the information on the mag stripe on the back of credit cards. This new requirement is not going to accomplish a damn thing...shortly after its introduction, there will be a black market for fake ID cards. And then, aside from a loss of even more of our freedom, what will have been accomplished?

    Here's what gets me...all this crypto crap, this national ID card, and ideas like logging the DNA of all newborns (proposed by New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani) is coming from Republican party! It's abundantly clear that the only legislation they don't like is that which relinquishes control over peoples' private lives. The Libertarian.

  • First, come this election, I'm not voting for either of the major parties. They both suck. Second, since Lamar Smith seems to be so intent on affecting the private lives of EVERY American citizen (not just the lives of those who were dumb enough to elect him), I think a nationwide campaign to convince his electorate to vote him out of office would be very appropriate.

  • Because of what it allows, you've lost total control over information about your LIFE, who you are, and what you do. Is this the mark of a FREE society? I don't think so!!!
  • If you don't like this idea - or if you do - don't just sound off here. Tell someone that has the power to fix it - your Congressman/women or Senator. You can even do it via e-mail. []

    or []

    BTW - is there a feminine form of Senator?

  • First off, the quote is not stupid. Second, ALL liberties are essential. I well remember when many things we accept today would have been viewed with terror, and argued as bad for the precedent alone. "The Slippery Slope" was a well understood concept. It certainly wasn't necessary to define all words longer than two syllables to state something as well understood as this simple and founding concept...unless your point is simply to baffle with bullshit. btw, I'm not that old.
  • Nixon was a paranoid nut.

    Paula Jones was living off her 'legal fund' and other mysterious donations from republican interests.

    Going from a government salary to unemployed to a bunch of strange income sources seems like a pretty ripe reason to come out on top of the audit computer's list.

  • Oh, I believe abuses of power happen. That doesn't mean that IRS wouldn't have audited Paula Jones regardless.
  • ...isn't so different from traditional news, I'm afraid. I found the original article a bit murky - it sidesteps such questions as, how much would it cost to convert all existing driver's licenses to a version with an embedded microchip, for instance, and who would pay for it.

    One thing I would expect from online articles about regulatory and legislative issues is links to relevant online documents; a few minutes' searching sufficed to turn up the fact that the "1996 law" alluded to appears to be "23 CFR Part 1331 (State-Issued Driver's Licenses and Comparable Identification Documents)". Having access to the actual texts that the article refers to would be a great first step toward letting individual readers conceive an informed opinion on the issues involved.

    A great resource for those who are inquisitive enough to want to see actual texts is FindLaw []. (Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the full text of the abovementioned text; either it's not available online, or it's not indexed at FindLaw. If anybody knows where to find an online version, please post ! I should add that I'm not a U.S. citizen - but I'm fascinated, in a quite amateurish and non-lawyerly fashion, with U.S. laws and legal structures.)

    Sadly, Slashdot's own spin on this kind of news is no better than Wired's; all we see is the 'juicy' bits extracted from the original article, with a "this is scary" appended. I love Slashdot, but I'm concerned to see you guys give in to sensationalism a bit too often in recent days; IMHO, what digital news is all about is avoiding spin, and letting readers check out the (published) facts.

  • ... and buying beer and getting into bars and
    chashing checks and ...

    So it's a little more than just the license
    to drive. How often do you use your drivers
    license for other purposes?
  • Except of course if it's mandatory... Ahem!

    Having a singular ID will simply make it easier for the law abiding to not get wrongfully hassled in a difficult situation. After all, if you carry comprehensive identification at all times, then there's no need for background checks, credential verification, proof of credit of employment...

    Hell, I'm surprised that they're not considering making this thing implantable. But for all the convenience that such an ID would bring, it should be a privilege that one elects to exercise, not a 'right' that is imposed by the system. I should have the option of choosing to have to sit in the cruiser while they verify identity.

    And while we're already waxing paranoid on this subject, is anyone else bothered by the routine foot/fingerprinting of children? What's next? Their SSN/barcode tatooed above their hairline?
  • I don't want to carry my fingerprints around with me all the time.

    Umm, you already do. The only thing that having then [encrypted] in an ID chip wouuld accomplish is prove that the ID you just used to cash that big check is in fact your ID.

    It sounds a lot like having a name tag on luggage. Anyone can carry it, but if your name and the name on the case are not the same, the case is probably not yours.

    The creepy side is (short of an imperialist fed) that the data will be available via fed comuters, which are only as protected as they are protected. If the fed can get data out, so can someone else. If the fed can modify it (record update) so can someone else. And we wouldn't even know it. Does this sound like The Net yet?
  • "Maybe I'm ignorant, but who's undocumented? I can't think of a circumstance where you would be legally in this country and working and not be documented. It seems impossible."

    the option you're missing here is under-the-table work, which is what MOST aliens do. the point is, most aliens working in this country ALREADY work for people willing to knowingly employ illegal workers and avert the laws, so this super-id isn't going to change that. those people who already hire illegals are not going to suddenly start asking for the super-id when they've never bothered to do the paperwork before now!

    nice idea, mr. congressman, but i think you've missed the point. why not just spend the money on a few extra immigration agents??
  • big brother already live in the UK from what I have heard.. there are cameras in many places that are high crime, and citizens are watched.. not big bro comes to the US as we start installing cameras everywhere here, and ID chips.. will they eventually embed them in the children?
  • Some time after I got my mag-striped texas ID, the darndest thing happened. A very powerful magnet shomehow came in contact with the strip repeatedly. I hope these microchips are stronger. Especially because when I microwave a burrito, I sometimes drop my ID in there by accident.
  • by Zach Frey ( 17216 ) <zach@[ ] ['zfr' in gap]> on Friday July 23, 1999 @04:13AM (#1788648) Homepage

    Does anyone have a more exact reference to the 1996 law that is going to require states to use SSNs starting in 1999? I'd be very interested in this.

    Today, I am the proud posessor of an Ohio driver's license without my SSN. The SSN is optional in Ohio. Also, Michigan uses driver licence numbers that are independant of the SSN. At least for now.

    My wife gets a little frustrated with me, because I'm one of those cranks who, from time to time, will make a sticking point about the SSN. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple refusal to give the number, and you discover that it was optional all allong. Sometimes it's tougher than that.

    During last year's move to Ohio, we had to sign up for electric service via Toledo Edison [], which insisted upon a SSN for activation of service. Their phone people absolutely would not budge on this. Actual conversation transcript:

    Me: "So, what you're saying is that my only options are to give you this number, or to sit in the dark and freeze."

    Them: (pause) ... "Well, yes, those are your options."

    I realize that at this point, this would be where most people cave in to the power of convenience. I decided that it was time to not just get mad, but to get even. So, I looked up the address of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission on the web, called their complaint line, and (wonder of wonders) found that they were incredibly helpful. I explained my situation, was told that "they can't do that to you", and they gave me a number of a manager at Toledo Edison to call, with instructions to call them back if TE gave me any more trouble.

    Lo and behold, when I called this office at Toledo Edison, the person on the other end of the line cheerfuly explained that, in fact, they didhave a procedure that allowed one to sign up for electric power without using a SSN, it simply involved showing up in person at a Toledo Edison office. So I did that.

    Further dark side, though -- while this person at Edison headquarters was clueful and helpful, she asked at the end of the call if there was anything more I wanted, or if I wanted to speak to any management about this. Fool that I am, I said "sure, I'd love to give a piece of my mind to your management, thanks for asking."

    I explained very nicely to this man what had happened up to this point, and suggested that they obviously had a training problem with the operators if they would insist that a procedure doesn't exist when a call to the state PUC proved that it did. Mr. Pointy-Hair decides that the issue isn't the fact that they are operating in violation of their state regulatory agency, but the fact that I would want to do something so inconceivable as to not give my SSN over the phone. At this point I've over my stupid quota for the day, so I remind him that

    • I'm the customer here
    • Therefore, I'm right
    • It is supremely stupid to argue with your customers and to tell them that it's their problem if you're not giving them good service
    • Toledo Edision is in violation of the law here
    • He owes me a thank you rather than abuse for taking my own time to explain to him the bug in their system
    • And it's time to hang up on this bozo, because I doubt it's in my power to give him a clue

    Moral: If you're serious about SSN privacy, prepare for some inconvenience, and watch that high blood pressure, it's bad for the health.

    You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company. -- Colonel "Bat" Guano, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

  • I don't want my fingerprints on my driver's license! When I get stopped by the police, my fingerprints will be safely at home, encrypted. I don't want to carry my fingerprints around with me all the time.

    That's why we need the BSDL (BS Driver's License). Anyone can get one and modify it, so long as they don't try and pass me.


  • I wish I knew where to look up a source for what I have to say. I'm pretty sure the Social Security Act that started all of this specifically states that your SSN is not to be used as a national identification number. Does anyone have more info?

    Show us your papers! What, no papers? To the showers!

  • The national id card dosent make a difference either way. When every cop/bouncer/stalker has their handy dandy palm pilot/dna anlyzer(they're developing a handheld dna tester for crime scenes) who cares if you have a little plastic card with your name, life history, sexual preferences and the last 10,000 places youve been checked appear, along with your picture and thumbprint, the little plastic card dosent matter.
  • There is a law, the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996". Do a search anywhere on those terms and you'll find a sizeable list of sites, such as: [] or the full text here: []

    You are right though, from what I understand, it should be illegal to use the SSN outside of "tax purposes" but I think there are plenty of current violations or at least obvious bending of the rules.

  • Well, here is a link to a compilation of SSA laws [] and a history [] of the SSN. Although the history is interesting on it's own, look at years 1971-1975.

  • Sounds like it's time to get an International Drivers Permit (for those of you who don't have one yet.)

    Funny, how the article never mentions that there is actually no law that requires a person to have a SSN. (yes, you CAN work, drive, live, etc, without one.)

    Search for the "Sovereignty" movement.
    i.e. peacefully and lawfully regaining our lost freedom(s).

    One place to start is: ml

    Start with a copy of Black's Law dictionary, and the Constitution, and do your own research ! :-)

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks