photo id ?!?!

kent kent at
Sat Feb 16 16:48:42 EST 2002

On Tue, 12 Feb 2002 14:30:26 -0700, Andrew Dalke wrote:
> Dear Guido, Foretec, and the Python community,
> Last week I was almost unable to attend the Python conference.  Not
> because I was sick, or unable to travel, but because I refused to
> present photo id during registration.  [1]
> I was told at this point that the reason for the photo id
> requirement was 1) to prevent fraud, and 2) in this day and age
> we cannot be too careful.
> I understand the fraud part.  I know of two relevant forms of
> fraud - illegal use of a credit card and identity theft.  If I
> had known beforehand I would have sent a check a month early so
> that it would clear before I attended, or I would have brought
> cash with me to pay at the conference itself.  As to the identity
> theft, I had with me the printout from my registration, which
> contained the confirmation code.  That should be a unique and
> relatively well hidden information.
> Therefore I assert that there are other ways to handle the fraud
> issue than to require photo id.
> As to the "in this day and age" claim.  First off, I find it
> outrageous to believe that showing photo id for the conference has
> any bearing on the state of terrorism in the world.  After all,

Correct. This belief that a photo-id can prevent crime or terrorism,
by determining intent is simply ridiculous, but unfortunately is
very widespread.  There is no evidence that ID's have ever prevented
any act of terrorism, yet they vastly increase the false-positive
rate while increasing the false-negative rate also. So much for

> everyone on those planes showed photo id.  Israel has mandantory
> id yet also has many acts of political violence.  The UK had
> mandantory id but that didn't eliminate with violent protests related
> to Ireland, while it did enforce discriminitory practices.  As
> far as I can research, nationwide mandantory identification papers
> does not reduce crime nor does it prevent acts of violence.

Exactly. The intent of multi-purpose id's is not to prevent crime.
In fact they do the opposite as they greatly increase it. What they
do provide is Foretec, etc. with a 'due diligence' clause that
takes the the burden of liability off of their shoulders and places
it on yours. And by requiring a government multi-purpose id, if
any problems arise from their misuse of your personal information,
they can be absolved by hiding behind Mommy Government's skirts.
I have no idea if Foretec traffics in personal information, but
your personal information is now a very valuable commodity to most
large companies that obtain it.

> But in a deeper, more philosophical sense, I will not show photo
> id for a conference because it represents an undue and completely
> inappropriate government influence on my activities.  I have
> two forms of photo id - a driver's license and a passport.  The
> first gives me license to drive and the second one gives me the
> right to enter and leave national boundaries.  Both are revocable
> at will by the government.  Neither has any relevance to the Python
> community.
> Why should revocation of those two forms of id give just cause
> to prevent my from attending the Python conference?  For that matter,
> it means that having my wallet stolen has an all too serious and
> drastic effect on my life.  (Had it been stolen in DC I would have
> been unable to show ID; and I don't know how I would have gotten home!
> For fear of that, I left my driver's license at my friends' house
> while I played tourist in DC after the conference.)

Correct again.

> In addition, stretching more into my personal history, I come from
> a family of non-denominational Protestant missionaries, who have
> worked in Baptista-era Cuba, Velasco and Lara-era Ecuador, and
> Duvalier-era Haiti.  These were all autocratic governments.  One

A (likely) majority of US citizens have no personal knowledge of
what it is like to be threatened or assaulted by their government.
They have placed a tremendously large trust in the government which
minorities, etc. have learned is quite foolish to do. You evidently
have a somewhat implicit understanding of some of the dangers but
haven't methodically thought this thing through. You will begin to
do so now.

> of the things I took to heart from family stories was that freedom
> and liberty includes the right to travel and conduct business without
> having to get government permission for everything.

> I am proud that is it possible even now in the US for people to live
> and prosper without needing any sort of photo id and suffer only
> relatively few difficulties.  I could have taken a bus, train,
> hitchhiked, biked, chartered a plane, or even canoed to get to DC,
> without needing ID along the way.

Yes, these are benefits of freedom. Note that they are almost
entirely gone. You very likely need at least an implicit approval
for travel these days. You say you can travel without needing photo
id, but look around and actually try them out lately. Most of them
now will result in someone requiring your photo-id somewhere along
the path.

Historically, many slaves could come and go as they wished, provided
they had some sort of badge providing explict or implicit
authentication/approval from their master. Since they were not
free, they needed to be authenticated by someone. The badge often
provided that third-party authentication of self or role. A driver's
license or photo-id attempts to provide an implicit third-party
approval or authentication of self.  What is so different?

> (Let me caution that I am not claiming the US is a police state or
> other sorts of rash claims.  I am stating one of several reasons for
> why I have such strongly held beliefs on this matter.  I happen to
> also believe this matter can be resolved such that Foretec and I are
> both happy with the result.)

You don't need to claim it. I will. State governments are now
withholding licenses, arresting and threatening to arrest people
who simply request the legal authority for requiring SSN and
fingerprint for licenses. By those actions, they commit at least
three felonies per person. And that is simply the starting point.

One cannot use a third party authenticataion mechanism to authenticate
a 'self'. They can only authenticate a role.  When you attempt to
authenticate a self, you simply invalidate your authentication
system and assault the individuals who have submitted themselves
to that authentication mechanism.

> When I complained about this to Michel Sanner, he kidded me that I
> was acting like a real American - complaining about government
> control and living in the Southwest where life is more free.  I take

It was once more free here because the inhabitants knew first-hand
what the irrational, absolute power of the government was like.
They inherently knew what they often couldn't explain, that:

Freedom is the right of self.authentication()

When you lose the ability to live without having to authenticate
yourself (not the same as authenticating a role), you have lost
your freedom.

> I would like to attend my 6th Python conference next year, but
> cannot do so without compromising my strongly held beliefs unless
> Foretec changes their policies.  What I ask as a result of this
> complaint is one of two possibilities:

Unfortunately, I expect they won't. I expect they will again assault
their supposedly fellow Pythoneers next year.

Congratulations Andrew. This was a very well written article. While
your fellow Python conference attendees likely haven't a clue of
what you are talking about and likely will make great fun of you
over this, you just stood up for your's and their liberty.
Unfortunately, most of them will likely soon learn, too late, that
they have given away the most precious thing they ever had.

Thanks for taking the time and energy to write and post this.

More information about the Python-list mailing list