Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Good intentions breed a bad idea

I was going to rant and rave about our president, who embarrassed us yet again yesterday (7 days in May, 2007) at the White House welcoming ceremony for the second Queen Bess and the first Prince Phil.

This time, he said that the queen was around for the nation's anniversary in 1776 - er I mean 1976.

I wish we could put a seven-second delay on the guy and have someone push the red button when (not if) he says or does something dumb.

For example, yesterday as the queen stood regally to receive the ruffles, flourishes and gun salute, he looked as if he had to use the men's room really bad. He was jinking, his hand kept circling as it to say "hurry up already" and he walked as if he had eaten jumping beans for breakfast.

I was going to write about that until I read the piece in the New Haven Independent about the proposed new city identification card.

The impetus behind this is to find a way to get illegal immigrants a legal identification. That would allow them to open bank accounts and do some things that would make life a bit easier for them.

So far, no argument. They're here and they aren't going to go away. They got here the same way all our parents and grandparents did, albeit without the official permission most of our ancestors had. All our ancestors. American Indians (that's the correct title, the ones the Indians say they prefer, according to the Associated Press) also are immigrants --they came over probably 15,000 years ago from Asia.

But I have a problem with the card that has nothing to do with official redundancy or pretending the 11 million illegals can be picked up, trucked to the border and given the bum's rush.

It has to do with how you get money into the card. I haven't had a chance to use the parcxmart card, but I assume money is added on to the card by giving cash to a clerk or putting cash in a machine, much like the MetroCards in New York and Metro farecards in Washington. That works and is safe because it puts a barrier, a firewall between that and the rest of one's accounts.

Kika Matos, the city's social-services chief who wants to expand the ID into a debit card by combining it with the parcxmart card.

As the card gets more popular, people will want an automatic way of replenishing it, much like what goes on with E-ZPass. And there's the rub.

In the Independent story, Matos says illegals have told her they do not mind sharing personal information to get the card.

I do mind, and I'll tell you why.

This could end up being another avenue identity thieves will have to get their grubby little fingers around our accounts. If there is a window back into a bank's computers holding checking or savings account information, someone will find it. Major banks such as Citi or Chase or Bank of America or People's spend huge sums on keeping our accounts safe, and yet People's lost or misplaced a computer tape holding many people's information and the debit-card companies also have slip ups. People make mistakes.

I'm sorry...I'd like to make the lot of illegal immigrants a little easier, but not at the risk of the security for which I and my family have worked our whole lives.

If you want to do an ID card for libraries and parks and perhaps to get a preferred parking spot in the downtown we paid for (my pipe dream), fine. You want illegals to have a card to prove who they are so they can open checking accounts, also fine.

I share my information with enough entities, from the U.S. government to my insurance company to credit card companies and banks. We don't need another window into our lives. Let's not combine this ID with the parcxmart card and let's keep the replenishment of the card a cash transaction.

Saying "sorry" after some identity thief has skipped town with some one's life's savings just doesn't cut it.

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