Maybe you have to be my age or older to remember those black and white World War Two movies where the scientist or the Jew or the resistance fighter or the American pilot shot down behind enemy lines sweats it out on a train to the border while the Gestapo agent works his way down the aisle, demanding, "Papers, please?"
Or how about twenty-five years later, in John LeCarre's divided Berlin, when no one can cross the border without passing through endless checkpoints, and have to show their "domestic passports" whenever it's demanded?
"That would never happen in our country! We have the right to privacy!" Most people in the U.S. actually used to believe this, and didn't hesitate to say it. When was the last time you heard that one?
Most people who do think about the right to privacy believe it is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, but that isn't strictly true. The Ninth Amendment does say "enumeration of certain rights" in the Bill of Rights "shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people." and the Supreme Court has interpreted that broadly through the year. But times are changing.
In 2004, California passed Proposition 69, which allows the state to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, and maintain that information in a databank. Before 2004, collection was limited to those convicted of a felony.
The Federal Real ID Act of 2005, according to the ACLU,
Opposition to the Real ID Act cuts across the political spectrum. The Vice-Chairman of the Libertarian Party in Connecticut says,would force the states to standardize driver’s licenses cards across the nation into a single national identity card and database. It does this by stipulating that state driver’s licenses and state ID cards will not be accepted for “federal purposes” – including boarding an aircraft or entering a federal facility – unless they meet all of the law’s numerous conditions, which include:
- Standardized data elements and security features on the IDs
- A “machine readable zone” that will allow for the easy capture of all the data on the ID by stores or anyone else with a reader
- The construction of a 50-state, interlinked database making all the information in each person’s file available to all the other states and to the federal governmentA requirement that states verify the “issuance, validity and completeness” of every document presented at motor vehicles agencies (usually called “DMVs”) as part of an application for a Real ID card.
"To some these measures seem to be reasonable and effective methods to protect us. Others of us have serious concerns about the protection of our 4th amendment rights to “be secure in (our) persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” without “probable cause.” Libertarian hero, Congressman Ron Paul, argued against this legislation declaring the tactic ineffective and more than a minor invasion of our privacy, “While I agree that these issues are of vital importance, this bill will do very little to make us more secure. It will not address our real vulnerabilities. It will, however, make us much less free.” The Day.How crazy are things getting in this country? How much danger of overreaction on the part of law enforcement and governmental officials is there? to give just a few examples:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is challenging the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's right to force people to give them access to electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops, sometimes confiscating and never returning such equipment.
The town of Needham, Massachusetts was virtually locked down last December when a pizza parlor employee called the police to report a customer who was acting jittery and "may be armed."
"The massive police response was inexplicable. It was termed a "standoff" that went on for half an hour before police entered the restaurant, guns trained on the suspect who, unaware that he was even the object of their attention, dove under a table. Traumatized, he was walked outside, backwards, and made to kneel on the sidewalk, hands in the air, a policeman's gun pointed at his head. He was not armed. But, he was arrested anyway and charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. The school lockdowns were lifted shortly thereafter.The man was, in fact, the executive director of Geneva-based U.N. Watch, Hillel Neuer, who was visiting Boston to deliver a speech." SottNet.
An Icelandic woman who tried visiting the U.S. had a horrendous experience that makes you just feel ashamed to be American.
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Benjamin Franklin