Wednesday, May 18, 2005

They Really Are Watching You and Me

Well, now we've done it.

Congress just passed it and Dubya has promised to sign it and the Homeland Security Department is giddier than Mel Gibson in a nail factory over it and marketers nationwide are salivating at the groin at the prospect of it, and the next big step toward America becoming an even more delightfully paranoid and draconian Big Brother wonderland has now officially been taken.

It's called Real ID. It is, in short, a new and genetically mutated type of driver's license for all Americans, replacing your current license and replacing your Social Security card and replacing your sense of well being and privacy and humanity and part of a new, uniform, deeply sinister, national uniform card system whereby every person living and breathing in these paranoid and tense times shall henceforth be much more traceable and watchable given how we will all soon be required by law to carry this super-deluxe computerized ID card with us at all times, packed as it will be with more personal, digitized info about you than even your mother knows.

Real ID is coming very soon. The legislation was passed with little outcry and zero debate by both House and Senate just last week because lawmakers snuck it into a massive $82 billion military spending bill, and therefore no one was really paying much attention and this is the way you get thorny disturbing culturally demeaning bills to pass without resistance from smart people who should know better.

The new law will, according to the Wired News story linked above, require everyone to hand over not one, not two, but fully four types of documentation to renew their driver's license, such as a photo ID, a birth certificate, proof that their Social Security number is legit and something that validates their home address, like a phone bill. DMV employees will then have to verify the documents against giant teeming federal databases and store the documents and a digital photo of you in a database. Isn't that fun? Doesn't that sound gratifying?

What's more, the card's design plan includes multiple openings for the Homeland Security Department to add on whatever features they deem necessary, with or without your knowledge, consent or who the hell cares what you think because we do what we want now please shut the hell up and quit asking questions.

Computer (RFID) microchip? Likely. Digital fingerprint? Sure. Political affiliation? You bet. Web-site-visit log and religious affiliation and recent sperm count and arrest record and drug addictions and medical history and blood type and gender orientation and parent's/children's home address and number of personal blog posts calling Dr. Phil a "slug-licking ego-bitch charlatan" and your recent purchase history on shotathome.com? One guess.

Make no mistake: Real ID, in short, takes us one happy step closer to a total surveillance state, where everyone is stamped and everyone is watchable and everyone is traceable and unless you live way, way off the grid out in the increasingly nonexistent hinterlands, you cannot escape the spazzy and twitchy and paranoid eye of Homeland Security.

Remember the scenes in that surprisingly not-awful Tom Cruise flick "Minority Report" with the ubiquitous eye scanners, installed all over the near-future city? And as poor Tommy ran around like a maniac, little scanner machines installed by the gummint would read the eye pattern of every citizen as they walked around and the system could track anyone at any time no matter where they might wander and all the info was dumped into a huge database that was studied and cross-checked and manipulated by the CIA and FBI and Banana Republic?

Real ID feels much like that, only not nearly as cool.

READ ON: WE LOVE THIS GUY

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