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The White House Wants A National Identity Ecosystem: A Bad Idea

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 30/04/2014 Rebecca Abrahams

co-authored by Dr. Stephen Bryen, CTO Ziklag Systems

Not wanting to be left out of the massive government surveillance business, the White House is proposing a so called "identity ecosystem" for Americans. It means the government will own the accounts and passwords of all Americans. It will lead, as Paul Joseph Watson has reported, to a Chinese-style ID system where everything you do, from sending an email to paying your taxes will be tracked by the government.

This nutty idea obviously directly violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, itself already in tatters because of reckless Supreme Court decisions that has made the search and seizure provisions of the Constitution largely an exercise in rhetoric, not in assured rights as the Founding Fathers unambiguously intended in the Bill of Rights.

Implementations of national systems elsewhere, even when intended to be beneficial, has proven that government should have no role whatsoever in setting up individual ID's other than what is minimally necessary, such as a passports, social security numbers or, at the discretion of the states, driver's licenses.

A good example is what happened in Taiwan, a democratic country. Taiwan went into the government ID business and used a sophisticated smart card to implement the system. The smart card supposedly encrypted all the user's information and the encryption was supplied by a company in Germany. But, it turns out, for unexplained reasons there was a defect --and many of the cards encrypted nothing, leaving the user's personal information open to any hacker. But even worse then this screw up, the Taiwan government would be responsible for managing and storing all this data --and trusting any government to do that these days is a mistake. The U.S. government, for example, has been spending billions since at least 1988 on cyber security. So far, as best we can tell, it has failed in all instances to protect any government information. Every government agency has been hacked multiple times, perhaps millions of times, mostly successfully.

Then there is the intent behind the idea. Are we to believe that the government really wants to protect the privacy of American citizens?

Consider NSA's massive spying on Americans, a spying that is justified by them and by the Courts (so far) under the skeletal remains of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (e.g., they are "not" violating our privacy).

Consider the fact that the government is incapable of protecting any information it has (like tax returns or social security numbers) and has been caught using such information for political purposes on multiple occasions.

Consider the fact that the National Institute of Standards, part of the Department of Commerce, was caught in a conspiracy to bugger a random number generator essential to encryption programs, so that the government could read encryption that was in the hands primarily of large companies. An important security company, RSA, was forced to pull many of its products off the market, but only long after the compromise of corporate data centers occurred.

Worse yet, the government by means of a national identity system could ultimately decide whether you could access the Internet or make a cellular phone call, since the access key is in the government's hands. Will they listen in? Sure. Will they block your access? Expect that too.

Given the reckless way our government has handled personal privacy issues, you can bet that any national ID system will be used for political, ideological and control purposes.

Above all, this White House proposal is another step in undermining American democracy, which at its core is limited government and protected rights.

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