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News Link • Privacy Rights

Your Smartphone, Please


Bad enough that we are required by law to present our "papers" – government-issued ID cards, egregiously mislabelled as driver's licenses – whenever a government bullyboy so demands. Just as in the former East Germany, just as in the former Soviet Union – and in another place whose name it's hardly necessary to mention.

But in those places – in those times – tyranny was limited somewhat by technology.

In our time, the technology available to tyranny is almost limitless – and the laws which used to at least somewhat protect us have become the means by which technology tyrannizes us.

Corporations, which give a damn about our rights as much as Ted Bundy cared about his victims, provide the technology – and exploit the law – to profit from tyranny.

Government, in a kind of twisted quid pro quo, enacts the laws – and uses the technology created by corporations to intrude ever deeper into our lives.

Think of the loathsome body scanners we must pass through at airports.

Think of the Mobile Biometric Driver's License.

You haven't heard?

It is the brainchild – and hoped-for profit center – of something called the MorphoTrust – which is one of those corporations that doesn't give a damn about our rights if there's a buck to be made from eviscerating them. Morpho – as in morphology– wants to use your smartphone and facial recognition technology it developed to convert your cell phone into a mobile, scannable and downloadable version of your "papers."

In theory – and in technological fact – a cop would not even need to pull you over to examine your "papers." He could simply access your phone. Without you even necessarily knowing.

And not just your "papers," either.

Whatever else you've got on your phone. Texts, images, emails and Internet searches. It's the electronic version of a free-for-all rifling of our persons and effects without our persons or effects even being aware it's happening.

They do this already, in a way, via Automated License Plate Readers (APLRs). A cop drives around, the ALPR scans every plate within its range and records, cross-references and takes general note of who is where and when. Ostensibly, it's to help find Bad Guys – car thieves and such. In fact, it's a way for the government to monitor and record the movements and whereabouts of vast numbers of people who've done nothing criminal or even suspicious – two things that were once the necessary legal prerequisites for initiating investigations but no longer.

The Mobile Biometric Driver's License takes it up a notch, given how much personal data could be mined from our phones.

And we won't be given the option to opt out.

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