The days of Big Brother may be here already, thanks to a provision in the immigration reform measure being considered in the Senate, Wired magazine reports.
Within the 800 pages of the legislation under consideration is a passage outlining the creation of a federal database so large it would contain photographs, names, ages, and Social Security numbers of every American who has a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID. This database is referred to as the “photo-tool.”
The ostensible purpose of the “photo-tool” would be to aid employers in checking any prospective employee against the photo, thus ensuring that employers don’t hire illegal immigrants.
The problem is that although supporters of the tool claim it would only be used for employment purposes, there is a real risk the “photo-tool” could be extended to cover far more than was originally intended. One example is the Social Security card, which was originally intended to track retirement benefits. Now it has become a ubiquitous form of identification, being used for other purposes, such as buying health insurance.
Opponents of the database fear its intrusion into privacy, asserting that the database could lead to its requirement in order to vote, purchase firearms, open bank accounts, and countless other ways it could be abused.
Chris Calabrese, a congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Wired, “It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state, you do have to get permission to do things. More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”
David Bier, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, concurred, telling the magazine: “The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities. It’s like a national ID system without the card.”