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The Beast Has Awoken Part 2, ATM Card Users Are Halfway There

YOWUSA.COM, 25-October-01
Marshall Masters 

According to an article published on the L.A. Times yesterday, the national ID card system proposed by Larry Ellison of the Oracle Corporation is destined for the scrap heap of history that is, if you only read the headline.  What newspaper publishers know is that most readers tend to go no further than halfway through a story before drawing a conclusion and then move on.  This is sad because the second half of this article published on the L.A. Times paints a very clear and chilling warning about this technology -- it is coming!

LA Times, October 24, 2001
National ID Card System Failing to Attract Supporters

Calls for a national system of identification cards sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have gained little traction, failing to win endorsements from the Bush administration or congressional leaders.

Bush spokesman Jimmy Orr said the administration wasn't considering a mandatory ID program, and Feinstein is backing away from reports of her support.

Diane FeinsteinFeinstein said Tuesday that she is preparing legislation that would call for mandatory IDs with fingerprints and other biometric data only for non citizens entering the U.S., along with a new database that would allow immigration authorities to check information from the CIA as well as state criminal files and other records.  

"It's just for people coming into the country," Feinstein said. "I think this is where we should start."  

Some other improvements in the nation's patchwork identity system are probable, such as the expanded use of "smart cards" for military and law enforcement personnel.  

Senator Feinstein is not put off by the rejection of a national ID system by the Bush White House, and fellow legislators. The Senator knows that legislation is somewhat like geology -- it is simply a matter of time and pressure. For now, it is not politic to refer to her national ID card as a national ID card, so now it will euphemistically referred to as a "smart card'" system. 

No matter what you call the card, the underlying technology remains the same and the fact is, there has been no abatement whatsoever in the deployment of the underlying technologies necessary to make a national ID system.  Further, the FBI is about to take the foundational technology to the next level. 

October 18, 2001
Beyond Carnivore: FBI Eyes Packet Taps

Expect the FBI to expand its Internet wiretapping program, says a source familiar with the plan.

Stewart Baker, a partner with law firm Steptoe & Johnson, is a former general counsel to the National Security Agency. He says the FBI has spent the last two years developing a new surveillance architecture that would concentrate Internet traffic in several key locations where all packets, not just e-mail, could be wiretapped.  It is now planning to begin implementing this architecture using the powers it has under existing wiretapping laws.

The FBI has acknowledged a program called Carnivore, which sniffs e-mail messages, but the new program is more extensive, Baker says.

ISPs, Web hosts, vendors and other firms handling critical Internet infrastructure should expect the FBI trying to schedule meetings to deliver the details of their offering, and show the document containing the technical specifications, Baker said. 

The new architecture is different from Carnivore because it would likely ask for certain types of data communications to be centralized he said.

This kind of packet surveillance now being implemented by the FBI offers the government the cornerstone it needs in order to build a towards the possibility of building a truly secure national ID system. 

Sniffing The Packets

With Halloween coming up, let's compare computer packets on the Internet with the little chocolate bars we give to children when they ask us trick-or-treat.  A chocolate bar can be 1 lb., or it can come as a 1 LB sack of bite size pieces. Either way, we're still dealing with a pound of chocolate. 

By extending our chocolate example to the Internet, we see that it is not capable of sending something as large as a 1 lb bar of chocolate, so it breaks it up into send bite sized chunks called packets just like the candy we pass out on Halloween.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that the page you are now looking at is actually a compilation of 10 packets of information that were individually transmitted across the Internet by a remote web site.  Six of those packets may have taken the same exact course to arrive at your computer whereas the other four packets may followed completely different routes and arrived from completely different directions. Nonetheless, what you see is a web page, and not its many packets.  This is the beauty of the Internet; it thrives in exactly this kind of chaos.   That is, until someone tries to impose an artificial structure upon it.

FBI Control of the Internet

What the FBI is setting out to do with its new packet sniffing scheme is to change the fundamental nature of the Internet. Once this scheme is in place, packets will no longer travel in the freely chaotic manner that they already do, which also gives the Internet a great deal of flexibility and survivability.   

With the FBI packet-filtering scheme, all communication traffic on the Internet will pass through one or more surveillance gateways belonging to the FBI.  No matter what you are doing, whether you are sending e-mail, having an on-line chat session, reading a web page, or downloading a file for your personal digital assistant, the government will have of a front row seat.  Nothing you do will escape examination.   Nothing!

Not only does this packet filtering scheme give the government unparalleled access to your private life, your thoughts, your dreams and your wishes, it also gives the government an inexpensive way to ensure that a national ID system can be secure.  This is because all of the data being transferred from a national ID card to a national ID card server will be forced through a single communication channel and filtered as one continuous stream of information. 

But is this further consolidation of the FBI's power over the Internet a step forward? Not if we look at present abuses. 

LA Times, October 24, 2001
National ID Card System Failing to Attract Supporters

Opponents cite fears of racial profiling as police begin demanding cards of anyone who appears suspicious.

And they say the history of large government databases and identity cards is filled with cases of mistaken identity and improper use.

A case in point is the FBI-run National Crime Information Center, which compiles information on suspects and arrest records from all 50 states.

Some 500,000 officials have access to the database, and a 1993 General Accounting Office study found that the FBI didn't keep track of misuse. 

Among the hundreds of cases of misuse, the agency found that operators were selling information to private detectives, helping criminals, and in one case, assisting a former law enforcement officer who used the data to track down and kill his girlfriend. Just this year, an FBI manager in Las Vegas and nine others were charged in a scheme to sell FBI files to criminal suspects.

Those inside the Internet community who understand the technical aspects of what is currently happening are greatly concerned. They see the maturation of many prerequisite technologies coming to a point of convergence where all that is necessary is a governmental mandate including an open standard for user interface appliances.  After that, will the technological refinements will come in short order. 

For everyone else outside of the Internet, it is a much more murky issue.  For most Americans, the Internet, as marvelous as it is, remains a black hole on the other side of their computer modem.  Data is communicated to all points all across the globe and back again, yet it's very difficult for them to understand how it all works. This is why the public debate is focused on the human issues; such as prophecy, theology, legalities and so forth. 

While the computer illiteracy debate is to what form of the mark of the beast will take on, those inside the computer industry seen nothing to speculate about because they see what is here today and they understand precisely how this kind of technology can evolve. 

Simply put, those who work in the Internet understand what is happening just as thoroughly as the men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb. And what they see is frightening. 

Touching The Beast

In my first article in this series, The Beast Has Awoken, I used the analogy of boiling a frog alive in water to demonstrate how we are being slowly acclimated to the foundational technology necessary for the implementation of a national ID system. The subsequent reader feedback shows that a few were able to grasp my meaning quickly, but many did not because it can be very difficult it visualize technological progression if you do not work in the field.   

To make it visible, the following sequence of graphics will demonstrate a sample 5-year progression using a security communications device that we've all become accustomed to seeing perched on the customer side of the grocery store checkout lane.  Namely, that's the ATM card reader we use to swipe our ATM and credit cards when we purchase groceries, hardware, clothing, etc.  

Whether or not you are purchasing something in the mall, the ATM card swipe device is technology we've all come to expect.  We understand that cryptic little messages it presents asking us if we want cash back and other choices. 

The initial form of a national ID card could very likely be designed around these very devices because they are installed all across America, completely networked, completely functional, and this system is proven, tested and trusted.   

So in this example we will soon see that in 2001, another massive catastrophic attack by bioterrorists has prompted Congress to create a national ID card system in the hope that it can help make things more secure by tracking possible terrorists.

2001 Just Getting Started

From a technology standpoint, the first year will move slowly because it will be a year devoted more to paper form enrollments and to educating the public in general.

Once the new national ID system has been announced, application forms will be available in banks, post offices and government buildings.  Most of the sign-ups for the new national ID card will happen in the banks, which will see this as an excellent way for them to avoid the expense of printing checks and ATM cards. 

ATM card reader

We will most likely receive a national ID form application with our next bank statement, along with a nice letter from the bank explaining to us the various features and benefits, including the fact that their ATM machines been tested and are fully compliant with the new national ID system. 

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