The current immigration reform bill before the Senate contains language authorizing the creation of a “photo tool” database to be maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. The database would contain the names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID.
If passed, the immigration law would require employers to look up every new hire to ensure that the person matches the photo in the database.
Privacy advocates fear that this biometric database will grow into other areas, including voting, and may be used as a tool to turn people away at the polls. You may also be required to provide “proof of self” when buying a home or gun.
“It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state; you do have to get permission to do things,” Chris Calabrese, a congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Wired. “More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”
He continued, saying: “The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities,” he said. “It’s like a national ID system without the card.”