The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.
Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf) is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.
But of course there is no need to worry because we all know the government would never abuse any information it has about us. Oh, wait:
Congressional members have given the IRS until Wednesday to provide copies of all agency communications that include the words “tea party,” “patriot,” and “conservative.”
At the same time, Fox News reported on Monday that the IRS may have been casting an even wider net, and agents could have unfairly targeted groups that touted better government economic policy and debt pay-down. Also among the targeted: Groups that tried to educate about the Constitution or government policy critics, Fox News said.
A supposedly free people make an extraordinary concession to the government when they file tax returns: In an inversion of the normal American rights, we are forced to testify against ourselves. This is morally acceptable if and only if the government sticks to the highest standards of fairness. When the government breaks that agreement, the people are justifiably outraged.