Backed by a phalanx of civil liberties groups, civil liberties iconoclast John Gilmore on Monday relaunched his legal campaign against the federal government’s requirement that airlines ask passengers for photo identification in order to board a plane.
Gilmore, who began his fight against the identification requirement in the summer of 2002, filed suit Monday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, asking the court to force the government to reveal the requirement and to declare it an unconstitutional burden on the right to travel.
If you walk down the street to visit your neighbor you can’t legally be stopped and asked for ID unless there is some reasonable belief that you are engaged in a crime in some sort. Same thing as a passenger in a car or bus. However on an airplane the government thinks it can require you to identify yourself. John Gilmore is challenging that. I am pleased. Identification by itself does nothing to increase our safety other than as a mild deterrent to those that fear being caught after committing a crime. In order for it to have any hope in terms for detecting intent to commit a crime you must check a database that has background information on the person. If you have such a database it will be abused. Politicians will use it for digging up “the dirt” on their opponents, the reglious zealots will want to use it to out gays, the anti-semites will use it to harrass Jews, just to give a few examples. Information is power and concentrated power is always abused. Don’t tell me that line about “we just need to get good people in government”. Power attracts the worst people. “Good people” are either repulsed by power or scared of doing something wrong when given great power and avoid it. Why do you think communism and socialism have been such huge failures? It’s because they give government way too much power and that power attracts evil people. An ID system with the required database to make it really “do something useful” is an invitation to abuse. Don’t let it happen here.
Update: I found John Gilmores web site: http://www.toad.com/gnu/. I just did a quick scan but I didn’t find anything I disagreed with him on. He is even gun friendly. I should sent him an invitation to the next boomershoot as a special guest.