Tracking Your Movements

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More evidence that our kids will not believe there ever was a time you could board an international flight with a one-way ticket (or any ticket at all) without attracting suspicion or having your vital information entered, for between 15 and 75 years, on a government database:

The federal government has been using its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations. […]

While international air passenger data has long been captured this way, Customs and Border Protection agents only this year began to log the arrivals of all U.S. citizens across land borders, through which about three-quarters of border entries occur.

The volume of people entering the country by land prevented compiling such a database until recently. But the advent of machine-readable identification documents, which the government mandates eventually for everyone crossing the border, has made gathering the information more feasible. By June, all travelers crossing land borders will need to present a machine-readable document, such as a passport or a driver's license with a radio frequency identification chip.

Whole Washington Post story here.

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  1. I remember the days of driving into Canada and having the half-asleep border guards waving you through while yawning.

  2. How is keeping track of me taking a day trip to Rocky Point improving the security of this republic?

    Oh yeah, it isn’t.

  3. It was never going *into* Canada that was the issue.

    It was *coming back*.

  4. By June, all travelers crossing land borders will need to present a machine-readable document, such as a passport or a driver’s license with a radio frequency identification chip.

    Your papers . . . are not in order.

  5. Welcome to the Union of Soviet Socialist States

  6. such as a passport or a driver’s license with a radio frequency identification chip

    What happens if yours had an accident with a hammer or a microwave or was in your pocket when you got an MRI?

    “At least in the watch-list scenario, there’s some reason why the name got on the list.”

    His naivete is both touching and horrifying.

  7. What happens if yours had an accident with a hammer or a microwave or was in your pocket when you got an MRI?

    Two in the back of the head while you were “resisting” arrest.

  8. But I need my head. My hats look all funny without it.

  9. Making the US/CA border into a real international crossing is depressing. I’ve always felt the the world’s longest undefended border was one of our greatest achievements. Something all US and CA citizens should take pride in. To see its passing go without a backlash makes me sad.

    By June, all travelers crossing land borders will need to present a machine-readable document, such as a passport or a driver’s license with a radio frequency identification chip.

    WTF? I have a valid passport and driver’s license. Neither one of them is equipped with RFID. You telling me I have only till June to visit Canada?

  10. Make no doubt about it, the US has become a Police State under the Bush Regime! Pretty sad.

    RD
    http://www.decrypt.net.tc

  11. “Make no doubt about it, the US has become a Police State under the Bush Regime! Pretty sad.”

    Hyperbole and Random Capitalization! The two most wonderful Things ever Created!

  12. Warren,
    Your current, non-RFID passport is ok until expiration, when it will be replaced with the new model.

  13. Russel, Friar Bunny is correct. It’s not a police state. Just police-ier.

  14. If you didnt’ notice, Russell is Jim McDouche – I mean Jim McDish. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t start with the old LOL. What’s going on, Jimmy?

  15. By June, all travelers crossing land borders will need to present a machine-readable document, such as a passport or a driver’s license with a radio frequency identification chip.

    If you don’t already have RealID-enabled identity papers, you will be escorted to a romm where a helpful employee of ICE will implant a RFID chip in your neck. e sure to bring an alcoholo swab.
    The fee will be added to your income tax.

  16. Russel is just another incarnation of that Jim McDish spammer. I don’t think he even reads the article before posting. I used to think he was a super-advanced spambot, but I was disappointed to learn that he is probably just one depraved guy advertising snake-oil cryptography. Although the sad thing is that his incoherent rants are would be indistinguishable from the crap we write in the comments if he didn’t add in that URL or give out his email.

  17. What, me proofread?

  18. What’s the point in having such a system when it is quite easy to enter the U.S. inconspicuously.

  19. A google search of Jim McDish –

    “Jim McDish August 19, 2008. Dude, that guy is absolutely and totally NUTZ! JD http://www.datools.net.tc.” – http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/crazy-body-modifying.html

    “Comment by Jim McDish on August 13th, 2008 at 9:36 am. yeah Baby! Tony Soprano! He is Da Man yo! Sopranos ROCKS! JT http://www.FireMe.To/udi” – http://www.businesspundit.com/our-favorite-25-tv-bosses-and-what-we-learn-from-them/

    “Jim McDIsh said on August 13th, 2008 at 6:25 am. Nice! Fast trains totally rock! JT http://www.FireMe.To/udi” – cleantechnica.com/2008/08/12/sweden-rolling-out-183-mph-high-speed-green-train/

    Jim McDish – A Totally Rocking amalgam of doggedly determined and Painfully Vapid!

  20. Papiere bitte, mein herr?

  21. SugarFree wrote: What happens if yours [RFID-equipped passport] had an accident with a hammer or a microwave or was in your pocket when you got an MRI?

    It won’t be long before intentional defacement of the RFID chip is a federal felony.

    FYI, the hammer method produces less visible damage provided you know where to strike the litte bugger.

  22. FYI, the hammer method produces less visible damage provided you know where to strike the litte bugger.

    Yeah, the microwave leaves some pretty visible burn marks. I recommend the hammer method if you can pinpoint the little bugger.

    Or, if you have a nice big press with some flat platens, you can smoosh (technical term) the whole back cover. You don’t have to find it then and it’s damn near unnoticeable.

  23. RFID is the least of our worries. If the chip doesn’t work, they’ll just take the info manually.
    And there are some very good wallet-like security holders that protect the RFID from being read until passport is removed.
    Not that I’m happy with any of this — just sayin’.

  24. More evidence that our kids will not believe there ever was a time you could board an international flight with a one-way ticket (or any ticket at all) without attracting suspicion or having your vital information entered, for between 15 and 75 years, on a government database

    Yes, well, up until the 1970’s the idea that someone would seek to destroy and entire plane load of people or, worse, turn that plane into a weapon to kill thousands was unthinkable.

    No one would have tried such a tactic against the WWII generation because any enemy knew full well that that generation would salt the earth of the lands anyone who dared use such tactic.

    We’ve lost our freedoms because we lost the will to defend them where it really counted. We’ve chosen to cower on the defensive and restrain ourselves instead killing those who attack us. Americans of the past could move about in freedom because enemies who exploited those freedoms met to attack met a sudden and gruesome end.

  25. Yes, well, up until the 1970’s the idea that someone would seek to destroy and entire plane load of people or, worse, turn that plane into a weapon to kill thousands was unthinkable.

    So terrorism didn’t exist before 1970? Interesting.

  26. Shannon, I have a really hard time believing that we lose our freedoms because we lack the will (if that’s even the right word; I’d go with “humanity FAIL”) to glass our enemies without regard for the consequences for innocents in the cross-fire.

  27. “We’ve lost our freedoms because we lost the will to defend them where it really counted. We’ve chosen to cower on the defensive and restrain ourselves instead killing those who attack us. Americans of the past could move about in freedom because enemies who exploited those freedoms met to attack met a sudden and gruesome end.”

    So all those dead people in Afghanistan and iraq were not our enemies?

    Thanks for clearing that up!

    I didn’t choose to cower. I want to flaunt my freedom, not give it up to bed-wetters like you. That you can justify giving them up makes you the one cowering. You are just dragging the rest of us along with you.

  28. It was never going *into* Canada that was the issue.

    It was *coming back*.

    I grew up in the Great White North, and we’d travel frequently. Never used to have a problem from either side of the border.

    Recently, a friend of mine was coming up to Vancouver for a wedding, and was carrying the ring (purchased in the US and taken back for a cleaning). Since he failed to mention he had it with him, the Canadians harassed and threatened him, fined him ~$500 and almost didn’t let him in.

    So much for our oft-cited national politeness. At least Canucks were safe from that dangerous diamond, though. Whew!

  29. As I tried to explain to my dinner, if you are that anxious to leave, you must have stolen something. No one is going anywhere until I find it.

  30. “””What happens if yours had an accident with a hammer or a microwave or was in your pocket when you got an MRI?”””

    Then it’s invalid, and you need valid identification. Therefore, it’s likely they could hold you at the border until it gets straightened out. Wouldn’t be a wise move unless you have some extra time.

    “””RFID is the least of our worries. If the chip doesn’t work, they’ll just take the info manually.”””

    It’s not the mechanisms for input that are the problem, it’s the databases themselves and the desire to collect data. There is a decent book on the subject called Database Nation: Death of privacy in the 21 century.

    “””We’ve lost our freedoms because we lost the will to defend them where it really counted.

    Terrorism can never take our freedoms away. That can only be done by our government. This is easy for them when they play the fear card. If we have lost freedoms, it’s only because we didn’t stand up our government on freedom’s behalf. We willingly gave it away.

    We’ve chosen to cower on the defensive and restrain ourselves instead killing those who attack us. “””

    Tsk, tsk. Those who did attack us died in the attack. They killed themselves. If you mean those who think about attacking us, that’s a thought crimes. Perhaps, if you did read 1984, you were cheering for Big Brother.

  31. “A person opts to go over the border, their information is going to be collected and held anyway,” she said. “If you don’t want to go over the border, you don’t have to.”

    Ha ha ha ha! Yes, I suppose we do have to freedom to avoid having our freedoms taken away. For now.

  32. Elemenope,

    I have a really hard time believing that we lose our freedoms because we lack the will (if that’s even the right word; I’d go with “humanity FAIL”) to glass our enemies without regard for the consequences for innocents in the cross-fire.

    My point is that the willingness of previous generation to burn entire cities to the ground allowed them to live in a bubble of personal freedom. Terrorism was not a viable tactic in such an environment. We had to evolve to the point were we tolerated the use of human shields before terrorist and terrorist supporting nations could even think of attacking us in such a way.

    Now days, we let terrorist hide behind human shields while we feel our way towards them with (relative to the past) surgical precision. That gives them hope that they can strike us anywhere and escape scott free.

    Sparing the lives of the people the terrorist hide behind inevitably means moving our line of defense home. If we allow conditions to exist that let terrorist attack anywhere then we must be prepared to defend anywhere. That in turn means the gradual militarization of the entire country. If allowed to continue, we will end up like Israel or worse.

    I’m not even sure we’re even saving lives on net.

  33. My point is that the willingness of previous generation to burn entire cities to the ground allowed them to live in a bubble of personal freedom.

    Right now, Shannon, some radical in the Middle East is explaining that the only way to ensure the freedom of his people is to burn entire American cities to the ground. And a Middle Eastern version of yourself is yelling “Allahu Akbar!” in response.

  34. “””My point is that the willingness of previous generation to burn entire cities to the ground allowed them to live in a bubble of personal freedom.”””

    Ah the price of freedom is vulnerability.

    But which cities were burned to the ground?

  35. Now, the government wants to “tag” us like livestock and track our movements. Might as well, the people are cowering like sheep if they let this one slide by, looking for someone to shepard them to safety.

    The terrorists have won, I fear my goverment more than the terrorists.

  36. thoreau,

    Right now, Shannon, some radical in the Middle East is explaining that the only way to ensure the freedom of his people is to burn entire American cities to the ground.

    And he is correct. Anyone who wishes to preserve a medieval Islamic civilization controlled by radically conservative sheiks must destroy the engines of modernity. Islamic theocracy and liberal-democracy cannot exist on the same planet in peace. The prosperity and freedom of liberal-democracy will erode and destroy the power of the theocrats and they know it.

    Your mistake lays in assuming that there must be some mutually agreeable compromise that we could reach if we just worked hard enough. In reality, liberal-democracy presents such a threat to all forms of autocracy that they must work to destroy it.

    I do believe that liberal-democracy and the civilization we’ve built upon it are something worth defending and extending with lethal violence. Having such a belief requires me get my hands dirty and prevents me from striking empty moral poses.

  37. TrickyVic,

    Ah the price of freedom is vulnerability.

    No, the price of freedom is killing. Human beings will inherently seek to dominate other humans. We prevent this, and create freedom, by making the cost of domination higher than the cost of cooperation. As a practical matter, this means killing people.

    But which cities were burned to the ground?

    Hiroshima, Dresden, Nagasaki, Hamburg, Osaka, Munich,Tokyo, Berlin etc. During the Cold War and even today, we protect ourselves from nuclear attack by making the credible threat to incinerate the entire planet if we are attacked with nukes.

    We’ve killed a lot of people to maintain our freedoms.

  38. I do believe that liberal-democracy and the civilization we’ve built upon it are something worth defending and extending with lethal violence.

    Defending? Yes.

    Extending? Even if one believes that it is moral to extend liberal societies by force, is it actually possible to extend liberal societies by external force? Or does external force create something illiberal?

  39. some radical in the Middle East is explaining that the only way to ensure the freedom of his people is to burn entire American cities to the ground.

    I doubt the radicals in the Middle East are using the rhetoric of freedom, thoreau. Most likely they are saying the only way to preserve the sanctity of the faith and the purity of their bodily fluids is to burn entire American cities to the ground.

    Shannon makes the same point that I have made in the past – the defensive hunker/criminalization of terrorism approach is extremely corrosive of civil liberties.

    As long as there is a credible terrorist threat, some response by our government will be called for (like it or not). We’ve started down the defensive hunker road with the PATRIOT Act and all the abuses so regularly decried in these parts, and you can bet it will get steeper and slipperier if additional attacks are made.

  40. “””No, the price of freedom is killing. “””

    So we are not free unless we kill? Have you ever had a civics class in your life? If I accept your premise as true then we need to kill those who are a threat to our freedom. Again, terrorist do NOT threaten our freedoms. How the government acts in response is a different story. So you would be encouraging us to fight our government.

    I’ve lived in NYC for almost 20 years. Terrorism will never force me to leave, but counter-terrorism could.

    This is land of the brave, not land of the I’ll give up my freedoms because of fear. If you really feel safer when the government exercises control over the citizenry, you should move to China.

    I’ll take freedom over tyranny any day, even if it mean I have to defend myself from terrorism.

  41. Bombing Nagasaki et al wasn’t about defending frredom, it was about defending a nation-state. The US government could only claim to be less freedom-loathing than its enemies, which isn’t saying much. Unless Japanese internment camps and bans on “immoral” activities promote freedom.

  42. “””We’ve killed a lot of people to maintain our freedoms.”””

    Sure, and many of those were killed because they allowed their government to remove their freedoms in the name of security.

    Are you familiar with any Ben Franklin quotes?

  43. Goddamned Canadians, trying to steal our freedoms. Somebody oughtta pass a law.

  44. Junter Klops,

    So, you think you would have had more freedom under a Nazi or Communist regime. Interesting argument.

    If your making an anarchistic argument don’t bother. I find those childish in the extreme.

  45. TrickyVic,

    Grow up. There is no natural state of freedom. All peace is artificial. Ever since hunter-gatherer times people have lived in constant fear of violence and/or oppression. The freedoms you take for granted were created by people willing to kill to create a peaceful little bubble for you live in.

    Peace, Freedom, prosperity are all unnatural, unstable states of existence. We bring them into existence, however imperfectly by our actions. When we stop exerting ourselves we revert to our natural state of violence and oppression.

  46. Shannon Love,

    Grow up. There is no way to guarantee security. A nation constantly at war cannot remain a liberal republic, and that is just a fact of life. Ever since hunter-gatherer days, a state of war has been a great way for a leader to get people to march in line behinds all sorts of awful actions.

  47. “”Peace, Freedom, prosperity are all unnatural, unstable states of existence.””

    I think that statement speaks for its self.

  48. Actually freedom IS the natural state. It is what exists until some action is taken

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