Internet Privacy, Voting Rights, Identity Protection

Congress needs to address all these issues together to effectively protect our rights and liberties and establish boundaries to our information.

People shouldn’t need to be a computer geek to be secure in their personal data and avoid identity theft. Everyone has a right to expect their privacy is equally fully protected when they use the internet, and that only people who are authorized to see any particular data are able to see it. Doctors, police, landlords, retailers, neighbors, all should have access only to what is appropriate, determined by uniform rules.

And everyone has a right to expect that their identity is secure and they can prove that they are who they are, and that the imposter is the imposter. And everyone has a right to vote somewhere, and only once, at one place in the country. No one should be able to vote twice by registered in two states, and every person who votes should be verified to be an actual unique person who is not also some other identity. That obviously calls for a DNA sample stored in a national database that doubles as a voter registry and ID verifier.

We already have a constitutionally mandated federal agency to do this: the US Postal Service. As post offices stop delivering snail mail, they should be repurposed into buildings where people establish their identity and residence and get their free License/ID (which they would need to vote), and mailmen can go to addresses and verify that person lives there. I found it was very easy to register to vote with a wrong address (somehow the number had been transposed), and when I found I wasn’t registered at my real address, I was told to go to the polling place I was registered at and vote there. I could have just left it and continued to be registered at a house I didn’t live in, in a ward I didn’t live in, and that troubles me.

That may seem very intrusive to have a federal database, but what matters is how it is done and what is done with our data. Our DNA and data and identity are already being trampled by a hodgepodge of private companies, criminals, snoops, and government agencies. And meanwhile things that would be useful and good are impossible, illegal or unreliable, like MassHealth not being able to access state income tax records to determine eligibility. That invites fraud and abuse and makes things very slow and expensive. It’s time to recognize that we already do have a number, a unique number (unless we are identical twins, in which case one of them would have to be killed j/k we’d figure that out somehow), and we have a right to our number being secure and not stolen (Of course it includes reproduction rights, to have a right to use our DNA to reproduce naturally with someone of the other sex – and children have a right to know the identity of their mother and father).

About John Howard