Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Fiftieth Free

According the the Billings Gazette, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has agreed with the State Legislature: Montana will not be part of a national ID card.

"We also don't think that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., ought to tell us that if we're going to get on a plane we have to carry their card, so when it's scanned through they know where you went, when you got there and when you came home," said Schweitzer, a Democrat.

"This is still a free country and there are no freer people than the people that we have in Montana."

My regular readers (both) know that I'm either a law-and-order conservative or a stubborn libertarian, depending on the humidity. So things like the Real ID act give me fits.

However, I'm always a Federalist, and I love to see States thumbing their noses (as it were) at the District of Columbia.

So when Maine, Idaho, and Arkansas passed resolutions against Real ID or the National ID card, I was only briefly uncertain about it.

The Real ID Act specifies that to get a nationally recognized ID card, a person would have to prove they were in the country legally and supply a variety of detailed information about themselves. While that seems to be a good idea from an anti-terrorism and immigration standpoint, it falls down pretty quickly when you consider that proving legal status would entail supplying documentation that would be less trusted than the National ID card would be. So by forging primary documents (birth certificate, etc.), an evader would receive an authentic, trusted card. Or two, or three.

In the computer security field, we call that "attenuation of privilege", and it's a sign of poor design to make it part of the system.

The benefits of Real ID are supposedly in efficiency, but the Act requires tremendous record-keeping, and would be a bureaucratic nightmare. Combine your State Department of Motor Vehicles with the Internal Revenue Service, and you get an inkling of how ugly and invasive the monster would become.

And it would never go away.

So thank you, Montana, for taking the lead. I hope other States choose freedom.

(w/t: Slashdot)

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