THE NATIONAL IDENTITY DATABASE
Even before a National Identity
Bureau is created,
methods of insuring complete privacy
and security must be
The following six kinds of crime might be associated with the NIB:
creating false data, inserting impermissible data, identity theft,
unauthorized copying of data, data-mining, & snooping.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
INSERTING FALSE DATA: 10 YEARS IN PRISON
INSERTING IMPERMISSIBLE DATA: 2 YEARS IN PRISON
IDENTITY THEFT: 9 YEARS IN PRISON
UNAUTHORIZED COPYING OF DATA: 5 YEARS IN PRISON
DATA-MINING: 7 YEARS IN PRISON
SNOOPING: 1 WEEK IN PRISON FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE
FUTURE REVISIONS OF PUNISHMENTS
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING
NATIONAL IDENTITY DATABASE
by James Leonard Park
The National Identity Bureau of the United States
will have basic facts about every man, woman, & child
living in America or visiting the USA.
Only those facts already part of official records
will be included in the National Identity File for each of us.
or private facts or opinions will be included.
In this respect, the National Identity File for each
will be less worrisome than
already collected by
Other laws might have to be created to prevent and punish
the assembling and sharing of private information.
But the punishments included in the law creating a National Identity
(or its precursor services such as a work-authorization database
or a list of foreign nationals settled in the USA)
will be focused just on this
particular body of information
assembled and made accessible for legitimate government purposes.
1. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
Whenever government data-collecting is proposed
the first response is overwhelming
We do not want 'the government' to know any more about us.
And we begin to recall stories of 'government' intrusion
on the privacy
of individual citizens.
In the United States of America, we do have a
complete right to be private,
but if we want to receive government services—such
as Social Security—
we do not have a right to remain anonymous.
The computers of the National Identity Bureau are
not conscious beings.
The computers do not care
about whatever data they record.
Electronic memory is no more intrusive than the same facts written on
In short, there is no Big Brother who is watching us.
Rather, there are individual, living, conscious human beings,
who are employed by various government and private agencies
who have assess that allows them to look at our pictures and read our
Whenever individual men or women look at our National Identity Files,
they do such reading for legitimate
And if ever any government employee misuses this access for snooping,
that employee can be fired and/or sent to jail for a short period as
Would it be possible to redirect our first anger and
toward the actual employees
of the federal government who do the
snooping, copying, corrupting, or stealing?
Severe penalties justly imposed on violators
should make us feel much better about the security of the facts about
contained in the computer system of the Department of Homeland
The following six kinds of behavior would be
And violators would serve their time in federal prisons.
Existing privacy laws in various states might also apply.
2. INSERTING FALSE DATA: 10
YEARS IN PRISON
The facts already known about the false-document
show the high value of being able to live and work in the USA.
Billions of dollars are spent every year on fake documents:
Foreign nationals who have no right
to be in the United States
purchase fake green cards, Social Security names and numbers, false
drivers' licenses, etc.
The creation of a super-secure National Identity File for each person
will replace all such plastic and paper forms of identification.
Thus, the thousands of people who have been making
lots of money
creating and selling false identity-documents will see their market
Instead of false passports, visas, green cards, Social Security names
people who wish to avoid detection
will turn their attention to creating
false identities in the computer
And a new electronic occupation will arise from this
Hackers will claim that they can create false identities in the
National Identity Bureau.
When the new national database of all persons is
super-secure electronic methods will have to be employed
in order to prevent, detect, & correct any false data.
The computer system itself will keep all information
the identities of officers (and hackers pretending to be officers)
who have placed any information into the national database.
This will enable data-privacy specialists to identify the criminals
whenever any false data is discovered in any National Identity File.
Because so many millions of people all over the
would love to have a File in the U.S. National Identity Bureau,
large numbers of computer attacks can be expected by the NIB.
Perhaps every minute there will be hundreds of attempts to create false
Because it is so important to have only true facts
in the database,
the penalty for inserting
false data will be 10 years in prison.
This will apply to everyone who cooperated in inserting the false data,
both employees of the National Identity Bureau
and other persons anywhere on Earth,
including the person for whom the false data was created.
When the officer who inserted (or permitted the
data to be inserted)
was an employee of any part of the Department of Homeland Security,
that person will be immediately fired from that employment and sent to
a federal prison.
And he or she will never again be permitted to hold a job
with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In other words, not only will this person serve 10 years in federal
but after the prison sentence has been completed,
he or she will not be
permitted to work for the DHS ever again.
Also, whenever a data-criminal is discovered in the
National Identity Bureau,
all of his or her past
work will be checked for accuracy.
Was this person previously guilty of creating false identities?
Such retrospective checking will be made possible
by the fact that each item of data in the national database
is connected with the officer who inserted it.
So if one officer is a data-criminal,
all of his or her
previous work (even back for all the years of
can be checked to see if other false data was ever inserted.
Because real people
have greater diversity than imaginary
the false data might show some
because the made-up people were imagined in the criminal's mind.
When imposing sentence for inserting false
the judge will take all of the facts of the case into account.
The accused will be permitted to present mitigating circumstances,
which (if found to be true) could result in a shorter sentence.
IMPERMISSIBLE DATA: 2 YEARS IN PRISON
legislation creating the National Identity Bureau
will explicitly name the kinds of information that can be recorded in
each Identity File
and what kinds of information or opinions will be explicitly excluded.
Whenever anyone has attempted to include any
information not permitted,
that person will be immediately fired from his or her government job
and will be punished by 2 years in a federal prison.
And if any higher-ups have cooperated in the criminal insertion,
they also will be dismissed and punished, using the same
We Americans value our civil liberties very highly.
And one way to protect our privacy is to define in the authorizing
kinds of information will never be included in our Identity Files.
And anyone (no matter how high in the government)
who attempts to insert private
data not permitted
into our personal Identity Files
will be punished to the full extent of the law.
All will know in advance exactly what content is not
And each person can consult his or her own Identity File as often as
to make absolutely certain that no impermissible 'data' has been
If and when anything that should have been excluded is discovered,
the individual has a right to demand that it be removed immediately
and that the person responsible for this violation of inserting
shall be fired and sent to prison.
In short, we can prevent and eliminate
by checking our own Identity Files for 'facts' not permitted
and any other mistakes or omissions.
4. IDENTITY THEFT: 9
YEARS IN PRISON
Millions of people have already been victims of
someone stealing their identities.
Pretending to be someone else allows the criminal
to make credit-card
to withdraw money from bank accounts,
to obtain employment when that would not otherwise be permitted,
to hide from the police who are hunting for a known criminal,
to stay in the country when one has already been expelled,
to get married if one already has a spouse, etc.
Once the National Identity Bureau is established,
it will be the first (and perhaps the only) place anyone will check
to make certain of someone's real identity.
The picture and other recorded facts
will confirm that we are
who we claim to be.
And when the 'same person' is found to be living
two or more different places at the same time,
then questions will be raised about identity theft.
No one person can be in two places at the same time.
If the computer of the NIB gets any such indication,
then an immediate investigation will be launched.
Which of these persons is the real James Leonard Park?
And what is the true identity of any other person pretending to be him?
Identity thieves will be sent to federal prison for
up to 9
The exact term in jail will be determined by the seriousness of the
Criminals professionally engaged in stealing identities
will receive the longest sentences.
But the people for whom they were attempting identity-theft will also
go to prison.
Anyone who purchases
any element of someone else's
will also go to prison for this violation.
This law could be written so that it applies to all forms of
not just misusing the National Identity database.
5. UNAUTHORIZED COPYING
OF DATA: 5 YEARS IN PRISON
The computer system established for the National
will attempt to prevent any copying of data.
All people who are authorized to read the facts in our National
can do so at appropriate times and for legitimate reasons.
The data will be available to read but not to copy.
So whenever another computer attempts to copy something from the
National Data Bureau,
some crime is taking place.
And the computer system of the NIB will trace all such attempts to
The penalty for copying or attempting to copy data
held secure by the National Identity Bureau
will be 5 years in federal prison.
And, if the person attempting to copy the data
is an employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
that person will be fired and prohibited from ever working for the DHS
even after the prison sentence has been completed.
6. DATA-MINING: 7 YEARS
The U.S. Census Bureau will be integrated with the
National Identity Bureau,
so that all data is available for statistical analysis by the Census
But even employees of the Census Bureau
will be prohibited from
snooping into the
of anyone listed by the National Identity Bureau.
Because even the statistical data would be valuable,
strong controls shall be in place to prevent any unauthorized analysis
of the data.
Commercial enterprises will have to be content
with the data actually published
by the Census Bureau,
which will be all data the public has a right to know,
such as the number of people living in any particular Congressional
Whenever data-mining or attempted data-mining is
appropriate punishments will be imposed on those who commit this
Perhaps 7 years in prison would be a reasonable punishment for
And, once again, the convicted criminal
will be offered the opportunity
to present mitigating circumstances,
which could result in a reduced sentence.
7. SNOOPING: 1 WEEK IN PRISON FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE
Snooping will be defined as unauthorized reading
the Identity File of any individual for personal curiosity.
This should not happen even as often as
reading of tax-returns by
curious employees of the IRS.
The facts in the National Identity File for each of us
will not contain
any data about income, etc.
But people are naturally curious about famous persons,
relatives, and even their neighbors.
Snooping will be punished by one week in jail for the first offense,
one month in jail for the second offense,
four months in jail and
permanent dismissal for the third offense.
If additional offenses are discovered even years after the snooping has
the penalty imposed may be up to one year in prison
and permanent barring from employment in the Department of Homeland
After a few people have actually lost their jobs and
been sent to prison
for snooping into the Files of other individuals,
then all others will be warned away from snooping.
Snooping by people not employed by the National
will be more difficult to control,
but the computer system itself will always preserve the facts
read each Identity File and when.
And the same program will keep track of how often each Identity
File is read.
When an unusual number of accesses are recorded,
investigators should try to discover
who has been reading this File and what were their motivations.
Each person who is authorized to read any Identity
be a registered user.
And each time a File is opened, who is reading it will be
This computer-tracing will also record any attempts to copy the data.
How long was each visit to a particular File?
Did that seem reasonable, given the recorded purpose for viewing the
Prospective employers might be the
largest number of
Everyone who hires another person even for as brief a period as one day
will be permitted to register as an authorized user of the National
And the computer system will record which Files were viewed by each
This will prevent employers from using their access for random
They will be able to read only the Files of people who are actually
applying for a job.
This will be achieved by a password
provided by the applicant.
Employers will also be able to read
some parts of the Files of employees already on the payroll.
Law enforcement officials will have the widest
access to Identity Files.
They will have authorization to read any File.
But even here, a full record of their reading of Files will be
which will discourage random snooping not related to their
Any pattern of misusing the National Identity Files
will result in withdrawal of the authorization to read Identity Files.
And the supervisors of any such police officers will be informed,
in case the violations of privacy warrant further punishment.
8. FUTURE REVISIONS OF
Every year the National Identity Bureau is in
new forms of misuse will be uncovered.
And when any such violations of privacy are discovered,
new laws or regulations will have to be created to prevent the abuse
and to punish the people who commit such crimes.
Members of the public will have easy ways to report
what they believe to be invasions of their privacy
when unauthorized persons consulted their Files.
And, as said before, complete records of who read what
will always be maintained by the computer system itself.
Individuals will be able to discover exactly who has read their files.
The record of each and every reading of an individual File
will make it easy for the appropriate security officers of the NIB
to uncover and punish snooping.
Each time an individual's Identity File is accessed,
the purpose for that visit will be recorded.
Later investigation will discover
whether these were valid reasons for accessing the
The integrity of the system and the trust of the
will make the National Identity Bureau a benefit to everyone
without any of the negative side-effects imagined by initial opponents
of the system.
All of the worries of critics shall be taken into account.
And new systems to prevent new possible abuses
will be created as those new abuses become known.
Our National Identity Bureau will exist for the good
of the American people.
And if ever any negative side-effects are discovered
they will be addressed with new controls and regulations as needed.
And new punishments might have to be created
to prevent new forms of abuse.
When our National Identity Files are known to be
we will have less worry that the facts about us might be misused.
And we might feel better about having our facts in a central government
when we realize that even more information about us
is already known in many other places.
We have not objected to allowing our pictures to be taken for our
We expect to have Social Security Numbers unique to ourselves,
so that our taxes and benefits will be correctly calculated.
If we travel abroad, we do not mind getting passports with our
We do not ask for our military records to be erased after our service
has been completed.
Likewise, we would not want our schools and colleges to purge their
data when we leave.
All such facts about us are maintained for our own benefit.
The only thing new about the National
will be that all of the public facts about us
will be gathered
in one very secure place.
These facts were already recorded in other places.
But now they will be in one electronic 'location',
easily accessible by everyone who has a legitimate right to know.
All who read our Files will have their identities recorded.
And we whose identities are contained in those Files
should be able to discover who is reading about us.
Informing us when someone is reading our individual
will empower us to do most of the policing ourselves.
Did someone look at our Files without a legitimate reason?
If we believe someone is snooping
in our National Identity Files,
we can ask for the alleged snoopers to be investigated.
A major exception to this rule should probably be
When police search for someone in the National Identity Bureau,
that person should not
be informed that the police are looking for him
After the first few years of successful and secure
the National Identity Bureau will be accepted by everyone
as a meaningful improvement in our quality of life.
And because this new system of identifying ourselves is our own
we can make continuous
improvements in the system
whenever problems or flaws are brought to light.
October 2, 2011; Revised 10-4-2011; 10-5-2011; 10-20-2011; 11-1-2011;
11-2-2011; 11-8-2011; 11-18-2011; 11-30-2011; 4-14-2012; 7-24-2012
James Park is an independent existential philosopher,
living and writing in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He was one of the first to propose a National Identity Bureau
for the United States of America.
And the penalties suggested above
are an attempt to make the data more secure.