Taking a Swipe at Our Privacy

Apr 12, 2007
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

Over the past two years, we have written extensively about the privacy implications of National ID cards (more information here) and the increased risks if radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are used in these documents (more informaition here).

If we are all carrying National ID cards, the government will have a much easier time monitoring and tracking our movements and activities.

If these documents are embedded with RFID tags, the government could use the technology to read all of our drivers'licenses from a distance, without our knowledge, as we walk down the street or attend a political protest or gun show- surreptitiously keeping track of who we are, where we go, and what we do.

The government's possible justification for tracking and monitoring all of us through National IDs? They might catch a few wrongdoers in the process.

Using RFID readers to scan the tags in our IDs and track and monitor all of us? Not such a far-fetched idea. Turns out that police in Clermont County, Ohio, have started using a handheld scanner to swipe the magnetic strip of state-issued ID cards, passports, and drivers'licenses and match someone's identity against 140 wanted or watch lists, ones from the Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Recent news article about issue here.

The owner of the company that makes the scanners lives in the town, is friends with the sheriff, and made the scanners available to the police department for a free testing phase.

During the testing phase, 1, 277 people were scanned, leading to only 51 hits, 18 of which were for expired licenses. Less than a 4% return on monitoring and recording the personal data of residents.

But, the police decided to continue using the system. The costs have been high in dollars- the price of each scanner is $6,000 plus $148/month fee- plus the privacy rights of all the innocent residents whose information has been swiped and recorded.

The results have also not been very impressive. So far, the police have scanned and recorded the information of 108,432 people, leading to only 286 hits. Less than 1/5 of 1% of the people who have been scanned.

Nonetheless, Clermont County Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg says, "This is the future of crime fighting."

Do you want this kind of future? Where the daily lives of all are monitored so the police might be able to catch a tiny percentage more wrongdoers?

Tell the Department of Homeland Security and your Congressional representatives that you do not want a National ID card.

More information at www.realnightmare.org.

Don't allow the government to surreptitiously track your movements and activities through RFID tags in ID documents. Tell your California representative to support SB 30.