ID, I Don’t

John Gilmore has been fighting an uphill battle. In the post
9/11 world, when the national security apparatus has been given
carte blanche to fight the war on terror, Gilmore has been paying
close attention to the erosion of civil liberties and analyzing the
effects of identification policy in terms of both privacy and
security. His findings? In addition to violating basic citizen’s
rights, identification-based security is significantly less
effective than traditional random searches, since terrorist
organizations can simply send operatives through checkpoints until
they find an ID that works. But the clumsiness of the No Fly list,
which has recently help up Ted Kennedy on several occasions, has
not stopped its rapid spread through that national security
infrastructure. More and more, private and public security
organizations have been pushing for a national ID card which would
be required in order for an individual to pass through security
checkpoints. Gilmore has gone to court over the right of citizens
not to carry a mandatory government ID, but the national trends
point to its eventual adoption.

Still, Gilmore’s battle is not the exercise in futility it
seems; he has brought issues of privacy and liberty to the
forefront of a national dialog in which such concerns are
considered secondary at best. In doing to, he has attracted the
attention and support of numerous civil liberties groups who were
galvanized after the Supreme Court’s June Hiibel decision,
in which they upheld the right of police to demand a person’s
identification on pain of arrest. Gilmore began his fight as a
marginalized Quixotic figure who was widely seen as going to
excess, but he has helped raise consciousness about the
government’s own Quixotic excesses.
Brendan Themes

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