It feels good to be back at the rant wheel again, by the way. Did you ever notice that there seems to be two disparate groups in this nation that will never come to terms? I’m talking about the far left liberals are aren’t happy unless they are saving somebody else while making everyone pay for the rescue, and the far right conservatives who seem to have forgotten that this country was based upon the theology of the days ministerial sermons? More on that later, but for now I want to address a situation that is growing with ferocity in baby steps, and no one seems to be noticing the real dangers behind the scenes. Like I mentioned yesterday, there’s a bunch of far righter’s hung up over the birth certificate issue, (oops I’m gonna get banned again, gotta watch that two word formula) and while they’re clambering over that piece of paper, the opposition is using the furor to hide an even bigger issue.
Washington DC is starting to find out what one of those hidden issues is. That issue would be your ID. That’s right, that little piece of plastic that your DMV gives you, or any other source of inestimable power, like the library or your local cheese wheel club. An article in today’s Washington Post speaks on the local issue of DC’s resident ID card program. The card described in the article by Tim Craig, District Residents Criticize ID Card, is a locally distributed ID card meant to assure access to certain taxpayer supported programs and institutions. No problem there, after all I wouldn’t want some bozo who doesn’t live or pay taxes in my town to have the advantages I am paying for, and neither does anyone else. But this is more than just an ID card, it is what I call a ONE ID card.
The supporters of these ONE ID cards portray them as being advantageous, and in some respects they are. With a ONE ID card you can do it all. But this fact is kept low key, and the boasting is all about ease and advantage. A ONE ID card allows you the advantage of using a single ID card, and it allows you to pay the fare as you go. These ONE ID cards contain an RFID chip, by the way. Dangerous stuff, but they don’t want you to know that.
DC One Cards are designed to give the residents of DC a simple and easy way of going to the pool, taking a book out of the library, gain access to several community buildings and more. The DC One Card website says;
“The DC One Card ID is designed to:
- Give all residents physical and logical access to all required DC government facilities, resources and programs
- Offer convenience by eliminating the need for multiple District-issued ID cards
- Provide access to the WMATA transportation system by incorporating Metro SmarTrip® capabilities into select DC One Cards.
- Reduce credentialing inefficiencies, reduce costs, and mitigate fraud and misuse.”
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? One tiny little piece of plastic to replace a stack of assorted IDs from all over town. But the Smart Trip capability is what really caught my eye. Anything that says smart immediately spells danger o me. This tiny little piece of plastic contains a passive RFID chip that allows you to buy time on the local transit system, in addition to simply telling people who you are. RFID is a pretty interesting field. Radio Frequency Identification is its full name. Basically, it is a computer chip loaded with information coupled with a transmitter and surrounded by an antenna. It needs power to transmit, and this power is gained from the electrical current that emanates from the reader that you touch the card to.
While the ease and convenience are main selling points, very rarely is the full story given regarding these cards and the spectrum of smart card technology under several guises. Most of us carry a slew of ID and gift cards as well as the everyday credit and debit cards. In some state, and maybe all of the states by now, even food stamp recipients get a little piece of plastic instead of actual food stamps. It is cheaper and more convenient to do what is called an electronic funds transfer, or EFT. No cash is involved, it’s all done electronically.
The article goes on to say; “Community e-mail lists across the city have been hit with a wave of complaints about the card. Residents are raising questions about whether the new plastic cards are just another example of a government initiative that hasn’t been well thought out.”
And one person was quoted as asking; “My basic question is: What does this card do that your driver’s license doesn’t do?” asked Ted Gest of Chevy Chase. “Would someone in D.C. please explain why this is necessary?” and Mr. Gest is correct top question the introduction of these cards based upon the drive behind the cards implementation. Aside from giving you the ability to ride the local transit, provided you’ve locked money into an account for that purpose, these ID cards give you no advantage over what one normally has on their person for identification purposes. A drivers license is a valid ID, and it contains your picture as well as your legal address. These cost nothing for the community at large, as the cost is covered by the individuals licensing fees. And it is a means of positive identification.
So there has to be another purpose for the issuance of these ONE ID cards. And there is, although I doubt most of the people involved have a complete understanding of the full ramifications behind the smart card technology. Except that at least one person has a good idea, as the article also says; “City leaders say the idea behind the cards is simple: to track who is using facilities while making it easier for residents to access services.” And there you have one of the benefits for the government within this program. They can track your activity. They can keep a record of where you go, and when. They’ll have a record of what facilities you visited, and how long you stayed, as well as how often. Combined with your other card usage, and your internet activity, they can develop a tidy little profile of you.
Smart cards and ONE ID cards may sound like the ideal tool because of the convenience they provide, but like everything else we deal with, we really need to address the true cost of using this technology. Not just the monetary cost, but the human cost as well. RFID is a great tool for tracking pallets of stock in the supply chain, but it is dangerous weapon when wielded against the human population.
District Residents Criticize ID Card
They are supposed to make your wallet a bit thinner and give you everything you need to check out a book at the library or visit a recreational center or a public building.
(By Tim Craig, The Washington Post)