Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Vere are your papers?

Posted by bsflag2007 on Saturday, February 17, 2007

I don’t routinely carry my passport around with me – truth be told I don’t always have my driver’s license unless I am driving (ok, sometimes not then either).

But then, here in America we don’t have to produce our papers on demand by the authorities to walk the streets …. or do we?

You all may be familiar with a Supreme Court decision a few years ago that upheld the notion that an individual may be required to produce identification when asked by law enforcement … even without having any cause to be arrested. (the case was about telling the police your name – but the notion of providing identification is the underlying theme)

www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/03pdf/03-5554.pdf

I have my doubts about that decision — but that’s for another day. In the mean time “we” are building on that notion with the proposed “National Driver’s License/ID Card”.

Fortunately, some states are beginning to balk at some of the excesses and over-zealousness of the frighteningly named “Office of HOMELAND Security” (other suggested names probably included “Fatherland” Security Office but was overruled by the Ministry of Propaganda).

I am proud to say Maryland is at least considering being part of the opposition:

“Md. lawmakers debate federal Real ID Act

Costly plan target of growing opposition by state legislatures nationwide”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020400261.html (real id)

Maybe on it’s face it is not a terrible idea … unless you don’t like the idea of being randomly asked “vere are your papers?”

Too much power with too little accountability is frightening. But you know what? We already have that , too.

Who else has too much power and too little accountability?

Credit Reporting/Scoring Companies.

If you have not yet thought about the extraordinary power these companies wield – now is the time. This is a fascinating exercise. The credit bureaus started off being repositories of information which lenders could use as part of an overall credit worthiness examination .

Over the years they have turned into enormously powerful regulatory agencies with virtually unlimited abilities to intervene in the financial and personal lives of Americans without due process or effective recourse.

They have pretty much created the problem of identity theft – and now offer to “protect you” for a variety of fees —- is it just me, or does the idea of paying to be protected from the person you are paying sound vaguely familiar … and illegal?

Legislation is also being debated about how to “protect” us from our “protectors” (I have attached some links to some recent local articles). Basically, the question is whether individuals should have any way to protect themselves from identity theft and fraudulent credit seeking activities by essentially “opting out” of quickie credit approvals. Seems reasonable — a note on my “computerized credit file” that I do not want to be approved for anything without significant documentation. Seems like I’m the only one who would be inconvenienced by this – and yet, there is opposition.

There are two threads here which could easily have been two separate posts —- but I am not simply “reporting” on these two pending legislative issues. I have a theory to share for comment.

What is the connection between the National ID “problem” and the “Credit Bureau” problem?

Laziness.

That’s the hook. We need these streamlined processes to keep things simple, make things easier. My question is, why do they need to be that easy?

Do you really need to have a mortgage approved in 15 minutes? I don’t – and I’m happy to trade that “convenience” for added security. I have no problem with any lender I deal with actually doing their homework on me. Most of them have gotten fat and lazy, though. They’re happy to leave it to the credit reporting company – right or wrong. If they give the wrong person your credit – oh well. If they have incorrect negative info on you – too bad for you, on to the next customer.

But the police – that’s different, right?

They should be able to have immediate access to everyone’s ID…. (actually the argument should be they should have immediate access to ACCURATE info – but why quibble?). They don’t have that right now? The only thing scarier than having the police/authorities randomly asking me for my valid “papers” …. is the very real possibility that they might accept the fake ID of a truly dangerous person because they were too complacent (or lazy) relying on the “secure” National ID. I’m not sure I want to make establishing the identity of suspicious people too easy.

We spend so much time in this country looking for the “easy” way…. the one size fits all solution …. The Answer. That is an error.

I suppose in the future there may be some fool-proof way to guarantee ID, and the record linked to that ID —- but we aren’t there yet. As long as there are people involved, and criminals or “evil doers” in the world , there will be errors and manipulations — and it will take effort and vigilance to make good, safe, decisions.

Cindy V.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020701849.html (credit freeze)

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-md.notebook15feb15,0,2833340.story?coll=bal-mdpolitics-headlines

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-te.md.security06feb06,0,4153217.story?coll=bal-mdpolitics-headlines

http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-5573414.html (national id card)

 

 

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