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Once our state caved in and agreed to keep its federal funding by complying with the REAL ID act, I happened to come up for license renewal shortly thereafter. The significant amount of information I had to supply was quite surprising. Yes, I agree, it’s convenient to prove who I am and that I’m a real US citizen. But what bothered me is that I also had to step up and provide a fingerprint (possibly more than one – can’t recall). I asked if that was mandatory, and was told yes – I could not get the license without it. I complied, but asked a few more questions about all the documents I had to bring (of which they made copies), as well as the fingerprint. I was told that it’s all encoded in the long coded strip on the back (not just a simple old-style bar code). If I can prove who I am to them, and they put a fairly decent anti-counterfeiting device on the card, why can’t that be enough for my ID to whoever? Why do they need to be able to scan in a very large amount of information, including my Social Security number, by virtue of requiring me to hand over my drivers license to an airline, or even to enter a military installation for that matter?

A good friend of mine was caught up in a raid on the home he stayed in over 30 years ago. One of the people (possibly two) that also lived in the home – all unrelated, just co-workers that were sharing expenses – were involved in drugs. Because drugs were found in the home (not in the room or possession of my friend), he was also arrested, and was young and naive, and accepted a plea deal to avoid jail time.

Fast forward many years, and he was working as a contractor in a military installation – which required a background check. He was cleared and worked there for many years (finally getting a retirement out of it). He also did volunteer work through the chaplain program on the installation, again no problem.

Then requirements to enter military installations were severely increased a year or so ago. He had his license scanned and was denied entry to the installation, on a Sunday, on his way to serve in a volunteer capacity. It turned out that it was no “mistake.” It didn’t matter that he worked on the installation for better than two decades, had a perfect record as an employee, had an unblemished legal record – suddenly, with the swipe of his drivers license, he was barred from entry, with no recourse. I can only imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t retired recently, and suddenly could not work.

Nope. I don’t want that much data on an ID I’m forced to carry and fork over to whoever wants to see (and scan) it. I’ve had my personal data breached twice that I know of big time (the big federal breach a year or so ago – it started earlier than they originally announced), and the big Blue Cross/Anthem breach. I also used to do a little bit of database application development, and am highly familiar with how easy it is to correlate data. In the wrong hands, for the wrong purposes, it can be quite amazing (and scary). Too many people already have too much of my data (and my wife and my children, thank you FedGov), and that innocent bar code on the back of my DL contains a huge amount of personal data that simply is not necessary for the vast majority of ID purposes, and CERTAINLY isn’t something I want to provide to whoever gets possession of it. If they want to verify I’m a US citizen, fine. Use the anti-counterfeit technology of the current card without including ALL of my personal data on the back as well. A State employee in a supervisory position told me it’s all there including my fingerprint – it’s not just my paranoid assumption. If VT also complies with the REAL ID act, I would venture a good guess that yours is on your DL also – you just don’t “see” it.

Too much information gathering, too much dissemination and availability of it once gathered. Mandatorily. Papers, please?

"Ye hear of wars in far countries, and you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land."