By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 15, 2001; Page A01
[August 15, 2001. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
has, for years, been conditioning children and parents for a national ID
program beginning with young children. Over 90% of missing children are
the subjects of domestic disputes where the so-called "abductor" is well
known to all parties. However, the NCMEC "exploits" these sad and unfortunate
"victims" by causing the public to believe, through their fund-raising
campaigns, that all these children reported missing have been kidnapped
by a stranger from some mall parking lot, or something of the like. This
becomes the justification for fingerprinting ALL children, at which time
donations are taken.
I asked an NCMEC worker recently just how many "missing" children had
been located and recovered as the result of using fingerprints obtained
under one of their programs. The answer was zero to here knowledge. The
other day Chandra Levy's mother was on CNN. The reporter caught her as
she was heading out to a fair to fingerprint and photo-ID children under
the NCMEC program. Notice too in this following story that, as is typical,
EPIC's director, Marc Rotenberg has nothing harsh to say about this newest
D.C. scheme. All he does is re-state the obvious without criticizing the
program. The national ID scheme, including children, is going nation wide.
Your children or grandchildren will be subjected to this type of ID scheme
if it is not stopped now. It will be conducted through the schools at first.
Initially, it will be "voluntary". Gradually, it will become mandatory
under justifications linked to public safety and social services. If you
are not resisting and opposing these national ID schemes now, you are,
in effect, encouraging this practice... Scott McDonald <email@example.com>]
---[begin forwarded message]---
From: W.G.E.N. [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 11:20 PM
Subject: NID: D.C. Plans ID Card for Students
Whenever you hear or read that something is "For The Children" you better
understand that it is really *FOR CONTROL*. Control and Money - those are
the motivating factors behind all this identification charade. Read this
article very carefully and be sure to read the parts that are NOT SAID
"I think people will eventually see the benefits," she said. "New things
tend to scare people."
Aim of DMV Database Is Missing Children The ID cards, issued by the
Department of Motor Vehicles, could be used to track everything from children's
welfare benefits to attendance at school functions.
(D.C. Motor Vehicle Administration)
District officials plan to begin taking digital photographs and fingerprints
of schoolchildren this fall as part of a high-tech identification initiative
designed to improve the search for missing children.
Under a plan initiated by the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams
(D), the information about the children would be collected at schools using
laptop computers. It would be fed into a centralized computer system, and
the children then would receive ID cards containing bar codes that
can be scanned by authorities, officials said.
Children from 2 to 14 initially would be eligible for the new IDs, and
parents would have to give their approval before their children can participate.
The IDs are to cost $5, although the city may subsidize the fee for low-income
residents. The IDs would need to be renewed every two years.
Several officials said they hope the program could be expanded to improve
social services by closely tracking youths' involvement in schools and
government benefit programs.
Although local law enforcement agencies and private organizations have
long snapped photos and taken fingerprints for parents to use in the event
of a child's disappearance, the District's initiative is fundamentally
different because the government is to maintain the information.
"We want to take advantage of the latest digital technology to implement
a process that will enable us to protect and assist the parents and children
of the District of Columbia," Sherryl Hobbs Newman, director of the
Department of Motor Vehicles, who is overseeing the plan, said in an
interview. "We should use the technology we're developing to get that information
to whomever needs it."
It is not clear how much of a problem missing children are in the District.
The mayor's office said police list 86 open cases of juveniles reported
missing in the 17 months from January 2000 to the end of May. Nationally,
more than 5,000 children are listed as missing at any one time, said
a spokesman for a group that tracks the issue. Those numbers include runaways
and children taken by estranged parents.
Businesses, governments and military agencies everywhere are linking
computers, digital photographs and biometric identifiers -- such as fingerprints
and facial scans -- to improve security and better authenticate
the identities of individuals. Many law enforcement agencies use such
technology to electronically book prisoners.
But the coupling of technology and biometric information has drawn intense
criticism from privacy advocates. And some activists and officials expressed
concern about the District's plan, saying the identifying information could
be misused by authorities and hacked by outsiders.
"I find it kind of scary," said Mary M. Levy, analyst and counsel for
Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools, an advocacy group. She said
many parentsmight not want police using the data for investigations.
D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7), chairman of the council's
Education Committee, said he shares Levy's concerns, but he supports the
program. "Generally, I think it's a good idea," he said. "I am a little
concerned about the Big Brother aspect."
Council member Phil Mendelson (D), who is on the Education Committee,
said he was unaware of the plan but is glad it is voluntary. He said the
government nevertheless must act slowly because of the privacy issues involved.
"We need to be very careful about . . . obtaining such detailed information,"
At the request of the mayor, council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) introduced
a resolution July 6 that would amend local regulations to allow for the
child ID cards. There was no debate at the time, and no hearings have been
The resolution takes effect 45 working days after its introduction,
unless the council votes against it, officials said.
Newman said she is sensitive to privacy concerns. Although the system
would greatly ease the collection of information about individual children,
she said, it would also be configured to limit how much information officials
"I think people will eventually see the benefits," she said. "New things
tend to scare people."
The District's initiative would be the most sophisticated in the nation
to focus primarily on children, according to officials at Polaroid ID Systems,
who have worked with the DMV to create the program.
The only similar program is in West Virginia, which began offering child
IDs two years ago. The District plan differs from it in one key respect:
District DMV officials intend to go into the schools with portable equipment
to collect children's information. Only about 5,000 children have been
photographed or fingerprinted in West
Virginia, in part because officials there require parents to bring
their children to motor vehicle offices, according to Mary Jane Lopez,
a spokeswoman for the DMV there.
District motor vehicle officials described the program as a chance to
use their year-old digital driver-licensing system to help authorities
find missing children by providing instant access, including over the Internet,
to recent photos and other identifying details.Officials have also
begun planning ways to expand the program to improve the delivery of social
services for eligible children, "from day one of their lives," said to
Sandra Villeneuve, a regional account manager at Polaroid ID Systems who
has attended planning meetings in the mayor's office.
Among other things, school officials might use the bar code on students'
ID cards to monitor attendance in school and at events. Social services
officials might use the card to track a child's benefits, officials said.
Newman said that if the program unfolds as planned, the use of an ID card
may become obligatory for some young people who receive social services
and already provide much of the information to city officials. "What we're
is actually making it more convenient . . . condensing it in
one card," she said.
Some parents expressed concern about how the DMV would control access
to the system and limit uses of the data. Iris Toyer, the mother of a 9-year-old
at Stanton Elementary School, said: "I find it invasive. I do not know
who will have access to it. I do not know how it will be used, regardless
of what they say."
Privacy specialists also criticized the plan, saying the city's apparent
aims for the program are too open-ended to justify the risks of gathering
so much information about children in one place. "There are always
benefits. There are also risks that tend to be understated," said Marc
Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
"Now you're talking about kids."
An official from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Childen
also questioned the wisdom of the District's plan. Spokesman David Shapiro
said there's no question that investigators searching for missing children
need access to a current photo as quickly as possible. But, Shapiro said,
authorities can usually get the information they need from parents. Oftentimes
that includes a child's fingerprints. During the last decade, through community-
and business-sponsored programs, the center has helped create 12 million
children's "passports" containing photographs and information about individual
children. Police agencies and other groups have done the same thing.
"It's the national center's view that only parents should maintain this
information," Shapiro said, adding that a major concern is that outsiders
or officials might misuse information collected in a database. "There's
always that potential. . . . Security is a major issue."
As in the District, West Virginia officials envision a major expansion
of the program in the coming years. Lopez said officials there are considering
using the ID cards to improve security and track attendance at schools.
may also want to create IDs for children in foster care programs to
ensure they get proper services, she said.
"I think it ought to be mandatory," Lopez said. "I just think it ought
to go nationally. . . . That database could be used for many things."
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