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EFF Founder Under Self-Imposed Interdict

John Gilmore bought a ticket to fly from Oakland to Washington, D.C. and upon arrival at the airport, was asked to present identification.

"Why?" he asked.

Because it's the law, they told him.

But when he challenged this and asked to see the law, no one could produce a copy. And that's because you're not allowed to see that law. It's considered "sensitive information".

This thought-provoking article looks at John Gilmore, the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the group that broke DES encryption in 1998 to prove a point. The point was that there needs to be serious, informed dialogue on matters of security and privacy, and that the government does not have all of the answers. And this latest move by the privacy advocate is similar in thrust. He can't fly, ride Amtrak, or drive a car, because he refuses to present identification. And he won't, because no one can show him where the law says he has to.

"Are they just basically saying we just can't travel without identity papers? If that's true, then I'd rather see us go through a real debate that says we want to introduce required identity papers in our society rather than trying to legislate it through the back door through regulations that say there's not any other way to get around," Gilmore said. "Basically what they want is a show of obedience."

The very concept of a hidden law in the context of a democracy is absurd. In theory, we, the people, wrote and ratified those laws. There should be no such thing as a law that is not in the public domain, and I don't care whether the government says it's for my own good.

Comments on EFF Founder Under Self-Imposed Interdict
  Comment from Blogger Alan Rorie at Wednesday, March 09, 2005 9:50:00 PM
Good post. I had not heard about this. I always find isues of ID intrestring to think aobut because I tend to be in facor of a formal, national ID. If we had an ID we could explicitly state when and where you needed to show it and when you did not and what that information coudl be sued for. Now with so many forms of ID issued by so may sources (Federal Social Security, state drivers licenece, local universities, transnational corporations) it is even more difficult to manage.

Of course, the deeper issue that Gilmore is addressing is the hidden natue of the law. I wonder if its the same law that gives flight attendents the right to make me remove hy headphone for the saftey anouncment. Next time I fly -- I'll ask them to produce that law ;)

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.