Protection over privacy
by ALLISON CRYER
Starting in January, Louisiana residents who travel in and out of the state on commercial flights or frequent federal government buildings will have to use a passport to verify their identity.
Former President George W. Bush signed the “Real ID” law in 2005 and Louisiana legislators passed their own legislation opting out of the law in 2010, claiming the law would be an infringement on the privacy rights of Louisiana citizens. Twenty-six other states passed similar legislation.
The Real ID law creates an identification system managed by the government in a universal database. The secretary of Homeland Security said the purpose of the law, created shortly after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, was to tighten security and identification for boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants.
However, critics say the Real ID Act of 2005 would turn our state driver’s licenses into a genuine national identity card and impose numerous new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants, and state governments – while doing nothing to protect against terrorism.
If we choose to comply with the Real ID law, it could impose significant administrative burdens and expenses on state governments, and would mean higher fees, longer lines, repeat visits to the DMV, and bureaucratic nightmares for individuals. It would also require the states to remake their driver’s licenses, restructure many of their computer databases and other systems, create an extensive new document-storage system, and considerably expanded their security measures.
But if we choose not to comply, citizens will have the added inconvenience and cost of obtaining a passport if they want to fly commercially in or out of the state or enter a federal building.
Since Louisiana opted out of the law and will not utilize a universal identification system managed by the government, standard state ID’s won’t be acceptable in federal buildings in Louisiana or for travelers originating out of Louisiana airports. Louisiana legislators say their intentions were to protect the privacy of their constituents, but at what cost?
I personally think Louisiana legislators got it wrong. I would much rather let the government use my information to protect me than be forced to jump through hoops for a false sense of privacy.
The reality is: in order live in a safer society, some privacy must be relinquished. Law enforcement uses tracking systems to protect citizens from dangerous criminals and sex offenders. The Internal Revenue Service already has access to our financial information and some personal information is already linked to a national database through our Social Security numbers.
Also, any of you who frequently visit Facebook, Amazon, Google and many other websites are already being tracked.
In fact, the U.S. Constitution contains no express right to privacy. The Bill of Rights does reflect the concern the framers for protecting specific aspects of privacy, such as the privacy of beliefs in the First Amendment; privacy of the home against demands that it be used to house soldiers in the Third Amendment; privacy of the person and possessions against unreasonable searches in the Fourth Amendment; and the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information.
We all have to make the decision for ourselves: do we want privacy or protection? We cannot realistically have both.
The protection provided by the government is the reason we have certain freedoms. If we did not track sex offenders or murderers, our streets would not be safe for travel. If you aren’t breaking any laws or embezzling from your employer, then why should it matter if the government has your information, especially when we freely give out our personal information to the private sector everyday?
It seems like legislators in Louisiana are more concerned with an arbitrary right than an actual invasion of privacy. The threat of hackers and identity theft is already there if you use your checking account or make purchases online. It would be nearly impossible in today’s world to do anything without being tracked.
If the federal government tracked me, they would only find out that I am a broke workaholic with an addiction to caffeine and live music videos. If you have nothing to hide, then why does it matter?
I would much rather live in a safer society than one where no one is held accountable for their actions.
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