[cryptography] [OT] Anonymity and Identification in the USA (Was: Stream MAC)

J.A. Terranson measl at mfn.org
Wed Sep 15 14:28:14 EDT 2010

Hoping to move the forum, I have cc'd a more appropriate place: followups 
are best sent there.

On Wed, 15 Sep 2010, Marsh Ray wrote:

> On 09/15/2010 10:21 AM, J.A. Terranson wrote:
> > 
> > On Wed, 15 Sep 2010, Marsh Ray wrote:
> > 
> > > On 09/15/2010 01:37 AM, J.A. Terranson wrote:
> > > > Clearly, your hearing is impaired. Anonymous travel is becoming nigh
> > > > impossible within the United States.
> > > 
> > > If I have a current plate on my car, a driver's license in my pocket, and
> > > money for gas I can drive just about anywhere I want.
> > 
> > This is a long way from "travelling where and how I please". Air travel
> > has only recently required ID (I flew well into the 1990's without any ID
> > whatsoever, provided my tickets were purchased beforehand), and bus/rail
> > lines have only required ID since the 9/11 false flag incident.
> Hmm, well, OK. I certainly didn't fly much back then.

Do you fly now? Even with prepaid tickets, ID is a requirement, despite 
the provable fact that the production of ID does not increase *security* 
by even a single bit.  In fact, it has been shown (Bellovin?) than this is 
actually a *reducer* of security, as you can now test the waters and put 
together a bunch of aliases that are acceptable to the government's 

Even worse, the supposed "law" which "requires ID to fly" is *secret*, and 
that secrecy appears to be fine with the federal courts. We can now be 
held to account for SECRET LAWS.  That's a pretty big change all by 

> > As for walking down the street, and doing nothing else, if for *any* 
> > reason you should get stopped (maybe you vaguely resemble someone on 
> > the run, or worse, you don't look like the rest of the neighborhood 
> > [black in white suburb]), and you don't have ID, you *will* be 
> > spending some time (from hours to days) with the local PD.  The 
> > implicit assertion that ID isn't required on a 24x7 basis is simply 
> > untrue.
> Communities have always had laws about "vagrancy", and you're right, how
> they're enforced varies wildly based on the circumstances and local
> discretion.

The vast majority of the country's vagrancy laws were ruled 
unconstitutional in the late 80's (the guy with the cite, if it's 
necessary, is a trooper pal I cannot reach till monday, however he has 
made much ado about "this terrible injustice" :-)

> We could have endless discussion about the extent to which that is
> unfair. Let's not, I've heard it all before.

Unfair != unconstitutional. No matter how many times you hear it.
> > > Every few years I might get pulled over for a burned out bulb or
> > > forgetting to renew my tag, but no one expects an ID otherwise. Hotels
> > > and airplanes have always required ID for obvious reasons.
> > 
> > Oh? What "obvious reason" would that be? Because we all know how well a
> > terrorist is likely to use his or her *own* ID, right?
> Hotels are entrusting their property to the guest and need to confirm who's
> liable.

Yet hotels only rarely ask for ID other than a credit card from which they 
can extract money for damages.  I can count the requests for ID on one 
hand, while credit card requests are universal and enforced (as a purely 
monetary policy should be).

> And yes, there have been actual instances of people not being on the
> plane which was brought down by their baggage.

Which has 100% nothing to do with the presentation of an ID to buy a 
ticket. Even valid ID.
> > > I haven't noticed that much outward, objective change in the past 
> > > few decades, except that the police and highway patrol (especially 
> > > in rural areas) are likely to be better trained and more consistent.

Your experience and mine differ again.  I was an aux asshole in the 70's, 
and our training back then *far* exceeds what appears to be happening 
today.  Todays policeman is in fact a paramilitary soldier who has only a 
vague idea of what is or is not constitutional. Even for those who know, 
caring is pretty much dead - cops (and spies, etc) have been given carte 
blanche by the US Sheeple to do "whatever it takes" to "protect [us]". A 
little trampling of the constitution doesn't mean anything to anyone (see: 
torture, PATRIOT Act., and thousands of other examples).

> > Then you have your head in the sand pretty deep.
> Or in the computer, more likely.

Time to wake up and buy some ammunition, food, and make emergency travel 
arrangements ;-)

> Seriously though, I actually have less paperwork for the car than I did 20
> years ago. I moved from a state which required an annual vehicle emissions
> inspection to one that does not, so now I don't need that particular sticker.

Which has nothing to do with the subject of anonymous travel.

> As for the police training, it's just my impression. Try asking the proverbial
> guy who doesn't "look like the rest of the neighborhood" whether he'd rather
> be pulled over by a rural cop today or in 1975.

*I* am *that guy*: I'd rather not be pulled over by *either* of them, as 
is my absolute constitutional right.

> > > That said, there's been a huge increase in the number of fixed cameras
> > > watching the roads.
> > 
> > They watch a lot more than just roads now.  And while they are supposedly
> > just for traffic control [read: congestion] purposes, they are routinely
> > used for law enforcement purposes as well.
> > 
> > > It's likely that many traffic cameras are reading and recording license
> > > plates. In my town, the patrol cars have cameras pointing every
> > > direction which recognize stolen (and recently expired :-) license
> > > plates. There are enough fixed traffic cameras around town that they
> > > never really need to chase anyone with lights and sirens like they used
> > > to.
> > 
> > And yet, the chases continue.  Wonder that, huh?
> Not in my neighborhood. There are many PDs that have a "no chase" policy.

Until you said this, I thought you lived in Illinois. California is the 
only place I am aware of that has a no-chase policy, and even then, its a 
no *high speed* chase directive, [wisely & unusually] aimed at the 
protection of the public.
> > > To what extent this data is recorded, retained, and centralized I 
> > > don't know. It's probably a fair guess that more data is collected 
> > > than can be efficiently searched,
> > 
> > Not so likely.  Modern facial recognition systems are fast coming online.
> I think those things are still an open question. Even if they had a low 1%
> false positive rate, it doesn't seem that that the resulting data would be
> manageable.

The false positive rate is reportedly around 5%, and is quite manageable 
for the circumstances in which it is used most often (the investigation of 

> > > yet few entities can bring themselves to throw it away either. 
> > > Eventually, it revenue-hungry states and municipalities could try to 
> > > monetize it by selling it to private entities such as insurers, 
> > > marketers, and credit bureaus.
> > 
> > "Eventually"? It's been in place since the cameras went up, at least in
> > Missouri (and this isn't exactly a progressive leaning State).
> I'm near there, too. Do you have a link for that?

I used to purchase the drivers license database in the 1990s, just for 
giggles. Now that it's expensive, I have to get access via Westlaw or 
Lexis/Nexus, but it's still there.  As for the pictures, my understanding 
is that they are now available under FOIA (although I can't see it actualy 
being filled, due to the duplication cost requirements).

I have no doubt whatsoever that the day those records become sufficiently 
monetizable, they will do brisk business (maybe Facebook?)

> > > Genuine concerns over "identity theft" have cut down on some of the
> > > enthusiasm for the sale of government records in recent years.
> > 
> > Cite?
> I'd read about earlier plans, and at least one plan that was cancelled years
> ago. But I doubt I could find a definitive source for my impression. Probably
> I just stopped reading the news!

Lowered "enthusiasm" != C&D.

> > > The public debate about this data collection isn't really happening 
> > > for a couple of reasons I can think of. First, the early groups who 
> > > began objecting to the odd camera here and there tended to discredit 
> > > themselves by mixing it in with a general paranoia of the federal 
> > > government and international organizations.
> > 
> > The implication being that these people needed tin foil hats. Yet, all
> > they were concerned of has come to pass...
> Some, but not all of it. FEMA has not turned the Amtrack stations into
> concentration camps, for example.

The FEMA babies are the tinyest possible subset of the people who object 
to data collection.  Even then, just because they are worried about 
something we may consider unlikely, their argument is still sound.

> > > Also it's usually not acknowledged who's receiving the surveillance
> > > feed, much less what their data retention, information sharing, and
> > > privacy practices are.
> > 
> > So the tin foil'ers were right, eh?
> Yes, in this case.
> > > So the ID requirements on my car and in my pocket have not changed one
> > > bit.
> > 
> > You clearly aren't listening, even to yourself.
> That's likely.

It confirmed: you said your car's paper load had gone *down*.

[down] == [change]
> However, the contents of my wallet and car's glove compartment is an objective
> fact.

The *contents* are irrelevent other than in the context of it being 
required for non-automobile travel.

> > > As for the back-end infosystems, I suspect no one really knows or has a
> > > plan.
> > 
> > I used the term "Oracleization" in the general database sense: it is
> > irrelevent which back end is in use where: the problem is the back end
> > existing at all.
> It's definitely an issue.

While muddily phrased, I'll assume that was agreement?

> > > > Forget about accessing any federal building (for any reason
> > > > whatsoever) anonymously - or even with legitimate identity that has no
> > > > State certified picture to accompany you.
> > > 
> > > It wouldn't surprise me.
> > 
> > *Why* wouldn't it surprise you?  Do you honestly think the ID requirement
> > (a) makes the building any safer, (b) has any legitimate purpose
> > whatsoever, (c) that the people working for the federal government should
> > receive better security at work than the rest of us?
> Any sufficiently non-small organization will have at least a receptionist, a
> sign-in sheet, vistor badges, and an employee escort. 

Private persons are free to do what they want - the government is not.

> If the building also happens to be a a courthouse, you can expect at 
> least gramps with a .38.

I go into smaller courthouses *all the time* without ANY ID.  No gramps, 
either, unless court is "in session", and Judge Corruption is Ruling: then 
I see Grampa Bailiff once in a while.

> > > But some context that people from other countries may not have when 
> > > they read a statement like that is many or most Americans will go 
> > > their entire lives without ever actually entering a US federal 
> > > building.
> > 
> > bullshit.  Until recent changes in the "have business" requirements went
> > into place, it was very common for people to (anonymously) flood the local
> > federal building every year, in search of tax forms.
> I always got my tax forms from the local library or post office. Never saw any
> human DoS like that, except at the post office that stayed open until midnight
> on the filing deadline.
> > > Seriously, the biggest direct interaction a typical citizen under age 65
> > > has with the federal government is filing a yearly tax form. Over 65 you
> > > probably receive a monthly check. Oh, we also had to mail in a form this
> > > year for the census which is every 10 years.
> > 
> > This has nothing to do with the central argument. Why the straws?
> You originally stated "Anonymous travel is becoming nigh impossible within the
> United States" and I replied with an observation that the literal ID
> requirements have scarcely changed. 

Which you then acknowledged I had shown to be incorrect...

> (As well as an assorted bunch of subjective impressions). My belief is 
> that it's best to have a good definition of whatever problem you're 
> trying to solve.

The definition is "It's impossible to travel anonymously in the USA unless 
it's on a local mass trasit system, or you have direct use of a car.  Air, 
rail, and bus travel are all now dependent on Federally recognized ID (see 
"Real ID Act").
> It's easy to look at the policies of the federal government (or the news from
> Washington DC) and get an inaccurate picture about daily life in the US. Much
> like impressions formed based on television or a single visit to Las Vegas.

It's even easeir to look and get a very accurate picture :-(

> Apologies everyone, this started out seeming to relate to crypto,
> authentication, or data security but is way off topic now.
> Perhaps this would be a good time for someone to raise an interesting hard
> crypto question?

Or take the response to the forum added above.


"Never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public
plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to
the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always
be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by
predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."

Joseph Pulitzer, 1907 Speech

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