Frequently Asked Questions

Mandatory Biometric Identification FAQ

For the first time in human history, both the political will and the technology exists to identify, track and control every individual on earth.

Almost no one would disagree that we now live in a surveillance society but what many of us do not understand is that because your biometrics are unique to you, biometric ID is the linchpin of the modern surveillance society. 

The Constitutional Alliance opposes the forced or coerced collection of any citizen's biometrics absent a criminal conviction or court order.

 

What is biometrics and biometric identification?

Biometric simply means "measurement of the body." Biometric identification is technology is used to measure aspects of an individual and transform this personal data into digital code for the purpose of identification.  Fingerprints, iris scans, palm prints and DNA are all examples of biometrics as is a high resolution digital facial image that is specifically taken for use with facial recognition software.  The previously used analog photographs on driver's licenses and other ID documents were not facial recognition compatible because of the extremely high error rate.  The analog photo is just as human recognizable on an ID document as the high resolution digital facial image is. 

What is biometric ID used for?

In today's digitally networked world biometric identification enables unprecedented individualized tracking, tracing, surveillance and control.

Biometric ID is used to create a permanent connection between a person's body and streams of information that exists about them such as financial, health or education records. In turn all of the records that are linked to us using a biometric identifier can easily be gathered together presenting a near complete biography of our lives.   

Biometric ID is useful in surveillance by linking a person to specific events, locations and other individuals.  In the case of facial recognition, biometric ID allows for a person to be identified from a distance. According to FBI, biometric data, specifically facial biometrics, is useful for data mining and predictive analytics to identify and classify people, assign individuals with a 'threat level," and even identify their intent prior to any actions.

Biometric ID is also used to control an individual's access to places, services and goods. This puts your ability to buy, sell, travel, work at the discretion of the government and dangerously tilts the balance of power away from the people.

Biometrics as an identification method that does not require us to carry an identity document that can be lost or stolen - with biometrics, your body IS Your ID. 

When is Real ID going to be enforced?

In April 2014 DHS will begin enforcing the Real ID Act 2005.  There will be a phased in enforcement that will include needing a Real ID compliant driver's license or other "acceptable" ID document such as a passport, to enter additional federal facilities by July 2014, and even more federal facilities in 2015.
 
The most common misinformation about the Real ID Act is that U.S. citizens will need a Real ID compliant driver's license or other "approved acceptable document" which is also a biometric ID, to be able to board a commercial airliner.  This very fact, or mistatement actually, was used to get many states to comply with the Real ID Act 2005.  The simple truth is citizens will be able to fly without a Real ID compliant driver's license but should expect to be subjected to additional screening procedures.  

But don't we need identification?

Identification serves a valuable function and we have long used identifiers such as our photograph plus our names and numbers to identify ourselves for specific purposes to specific entities to help ensure that we are who we claim to be so as to help guard against theft or fraud.  Following 911, both the political will and technology existed presenting an opportunity to take the identification process to a whole new level.  Biometric ID was offered up as the solution for some of our most pressing concerns such as terrorism, crime, immigration, fraud, and identity theft. 

What is a biometric ID system?

Biometric Identification relies on using your unique biometric data to connect you to various sorts of databases and digital communication systems allow this information to be accessed from anywhere, instantly.  By virtue of the use of international standards, the biometric identification system is designed to be a global one.  3/4 of the world's population lives in countries today that have either already begun implementing a "national ID" program or stated their intention to do so.

What is the most widely used biometric for identification purposes?

One of the most common biometric for identification is not fingerprints or DNA, it is facial biometrics. 

Facial biometrics was chosen at the international level to be governments biometric of choice.  Why? It is not the most accurate biometric.  Facial biometrics has the advantage of being captured and utilized without our knowledge or consent - and this is exactly why it was chosen to be governments biometric of choice.

We are being biometrically enrolled into this global system of identification and financial control right under our noses.  In the US, biometric enrollment is being accomplished largely through state driver's license and ID cards.  High resolution digital cameras capture, map, digitize, and database our facial features combined with our biographical information for the express purpose of being used with facial recognition technology. 

Passports and military ID's also capture facial biometrics for use with facial recognition technology but the state DMV databases hold the largest collection of facial biometrics belonging to the adult population in the U.S.  For this reason the state DMV databases are coveted by federal agencies as the means to enable mass warrantless surveillance and control of the population.

REMOTE BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION

Facial biometrics used with facial recognition technology is used for at-a-distance identification (known as Remote Biometric Identification or RBI) through networked CCTV camera systems and mobile devices connected to databases of our personal information. 

Remote Biometric Identification gives government the ability to ascertain the identity

  1. of multiple people
  2. at a distance
  3. in public space
  4. absent notice and consent, and
  5. in a continuous and on-going manner

Remote Biometric Identification infringes on our right to free speech, our right to choose with whom we associate, our right to seek redress, our right to peacefully assemble, our right to freedom of religion and our rights not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures.  Read our article "The Chilling Effect of Domestic Spying." http://constitutionalalliance.org/articles/chilling-effect-domestic-spying

Is the photo on my state driver's license or identification card a biometric?

Yes. High resolution digital images are captured and stored by every state.  The image is, by definition, a biometric suitable for use with facial recognition technology.  The standards for "biometric" capture are the same in countries all over the world.  Those standards originate with the International Organization for Standardization.  

The Washing ton Post published an article recently about state DMV's collection and use of facial biometrics that provided a glimpse of the growing biometric identification system being constructed with little understanding and even less debate.

The well-populated state biometric DMV databases will serve as the basis for nationwide surveillance and control. For example, the current Immigration reform bill seeks to build upon the existing DMV biometric databases and use our biometrics to control our right to work for a living.  (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill analysis Document 1ID requirement begins page 4, Document 2)

Also, the FBI is already securing access to state DMV databases for its Next Generation Identification (NGI) program which when complete, will be the largest biometric database in the world.

"The vast majority of records contained in the NGI database will be of US citizens. The NGI biometric identifiers will include fingerprints, iris scans, DNA profiles, voice identification profiles, palm prints, and photographs. The system will include facial recognition capabilities to analyze collected images. Millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects will be included in the database." https://epic.org/privacy/surveillance/spotlight/ngi.html

The process of unleashing state DMV biometric databases presents an urgent and immediate threat to the liberty and security of most Americans.

Why did state DMV's convert to biometric ID's?  When did this happen?

Dating back to 1986, federal laws have tried to impose biometrics on state ID. After 9/11 such efforts were fast-forwarded, resulting in federal legislation such as the "REAL ID ACT of 2005"   Real ID is not about 911 or stopping terrorism. Like many other federal programs REAL ID is about biometric enrollment

The Real ID Act of 2005 (Pub.L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 302 ) was the first federal law to require the capture and collection of facial biometrics on the general population.

The federal Real ID Act of 2005 set federal guidelines for state driver's licenses and ID cards that use INTERNATIONAL standards.  Under the Real ID Act, state driver's licenses must be machine readable and contain biometrics.  This and other information is intended to be shared nationally and internationally.

The standard for the digital image (facial biometrics) on our driver's license and ID cards is the adopted international standard of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization)

Why do we need international standards on state driver's licenses and ID's?

"The main ideology for defining the design of the DL/ID is the minimum acceptable set of requirements to guarantee global interoperability."  Source: Personal Identification - AAMVA North American Standard - DL/ID Card Design, 2012

International Standards exist for one purpose: to enable the global exchange of information. Many refer to Real ID as a 'national ID.'  That is a misnomer.  In reality, Real ID is an international ID.  It is part of a global system of identification.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is creating a global biometric system of identification and economic control, so that biometrics becomes the common international denominator identifying us to "governments and corporations"

As stated so clearly by Robert Mocny (Department of Homeland Security, US-VISIT) stated that "information sharing is appropriate around the world" and DHS plans to create a "Global Security Envelope of internationally shared biometric data that would permanently link individuals with biometric ID, personal information held by governments and corporations"

The head of the International Biometrics Foundation is on record saying "We need a global agency with global powers."

We are being enrolled into a single global biometric identification system that links a person's body using biometrics to their ability to buy, sell, travel and work.

How is this possible?

In order to create a single global biometric system there are just three things that nations or states must do;

  1. Enroll citizens (using biometrics)
  2. Adopt international standards. (The standard for the digital image on our id cards is the adopted standard of the ICAO- International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the UN.)
  3. Link Databases (for global sharing of biometric data)

Every one of these three necessary ingredients is being fulfilled today.

Is my state implementing Real ID?

According to the Dept. of Homeland Security, as of January 2014, 21 states are compliant with the standards of the Real ID Act of 2005. 

Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 

20 states and territories have been granted compliance extensions based upon their efforts towards full compliance.

Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and the Virgin Islands

14 states and territories are technically noncompliant but can be granted an extension in the future if they are deemed to be moving toward full compliance.  Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Northern Marianas Islands, Oklahoma and Washington.

http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/count-down-to-real-id.aspx

Will Real ID ever be fully implemented?

Yes.  The Department of Homeland Security announced plans for phased enforcement of the REAL ID Act on Dec. 20, 2013. LINK  The first phase began on Jan. 20, 2014 and the final phase of enforcement is to commence no sooner than 2016.  According to the Dept. of Homeland Security states have already implemented 70% of the Real ID standards successfully.

It is most important to note that ALL states meet Real ID benchmark #1 "Mandatory facial image capture and retention of such image."  No matter whether your state is Real ID compliant or not, if you possess a state driver's license or photo ID card, you have been enrolled. The same is true for other government photo ID's such as a military ID or a US passport. These high resolution digital images are a biometric suitable for use with facial recognition technology and we know that at least 37 states are currently utilizing the facial biometric with facial recognition technology. 

It is the capture of the biometric combined with the application of international standards that is at the heart of enrollment into a single global system of identification and control.

Why should I be concerned about mandatory biometric ID?

We hear a lot about the benefits of biometric ID little attention has been given to the dangers of mandatory biometric identification of the general population to a free society.

What we lose

  • Balance of power shifting away from the people to the government

  • Transforms rights into privileges

  • Destroys the presumption innocence

  • privacy

  • personal security

  • autonomy

  • religious freedom

"We must never forget our foremost responsibility as citizens. We must each ensure we pass the rights, liberty and freedom on to the children of today that we inherited at such great sacrifice of previous generations." --Mark Lerner, Co-Founder of the Constitutional Alliance.