If there is a way to make something more difficult than it needs to be, the government is sure to find it.
The recent controversy regarding driver’s licenses is a fine example.
Minnesota is one of four states that issue driver’s licenses that don’t meet the standards established by the federal Real ID Act of 2005.
In 2009, our fearless leaders in St. Paul decided not to adopt the new federal standards.
As a result, Minnesota’s licenses may not be valid to board domestic airline flights as early as 2016.
The new IDs are already required at some federal facilities.
Passports can be used instead of the new Real IDs, but only 37 percent of US residents had valid passports as of 2014.
Minnesota does offer an enhanced driver’s license or ID that does meet the Real ID Act requirement for an additional $15, but only 7,048 Minnesotans have requested those IDs, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
That could be because most people aren’t aware that these enhanced IDs are available.
Minnesota legislators were apparently concerned about the cost of implementing the new standards, and about the act being used to collect personal data.
It has also been reported that Minnesota’s law against adopting Real ID was intended to leverage negotiations with the federal government over the new rules.
Given that Minnesota is one of only four states that have not complied, it doesn’t appear that Minnesota’s gesture has been very effective. The feds don’t seem worried.
While I applaud the state for being concerned about the cost of the federal mandate and residents’ security, it seems like a pointless stand to take at this point.
I’m not sure what information the Real IDs would include that isn’t already being tracked, but it’s hard to imagine how things could be much worse in terms of data security.
The government, retailers, and other agencies are already keeping track of so much data about each of us, there isn’t much left that isn’t out there somewhere.
Consider all the information that is collected for simple transactions, many of which have nothing at all to do with the data requested.
Think about all those targeted ads we see every time we turn on our computers.
I think Big Brother knows more about us than our own families do.
I’m confident that if technology becomes sufficiently advanced, the people at Amazon could clone me with no trouble at all.
They know what size clothes I wear, what colors I like, what kind of phone I carry, what I read, what movies I watch, and what I like to cook.
The people at Verizon know where I am at any minute of any day.
The folks at FitBit know exactly how many steps I take each day, how much water I drink, and how many hours I sleep at night (not many).
The evil geniuses at Facebook and LinkedIn know who my friends are, where I hang out, and what subjects I find interesting.
Medical records are all digital now, too, stored on a hard drive somewhere.
It’s difficult to think of any aspect of our lives that someone isn’t tracking somewhere.
It’s also clear that the security of this data is very questionable, since even the most secure sources seem to be vulnerable to hackers and other miscreants.
With all this data about us floating around in cyberspace, I’m not too worried about a few more details on a new driver’s license.
I appreciate the concern on the part of Minnesota legislators, but it seems like too little, too late.
I’d just as soon have the convenience of a license that meets the same standards that other states are following.
I doubt it would reveal anything that a determined individual couldn’t find out from a dozen other sources, and frankly, my life isn’t that exciting. I can’t imagine anyone being interested enough to bother using the new licenses to scrape data about me. It wouldn’t be worth their time.