If you're a privacy advocate, you're familiar with the various analogs for slow destruction of civil liberties. The light-dimmer effect is one, something I heard years ago from Arthur Maren.
Here's how it works: You go into a room, and someone turns the light-dimmer down just a few notches every few minutes. After a while, it's dark, and you haven't even noticed what happened.
And so it goes with our civil liberties and our privacy in the US. The dimmer just got turned a notch.
From the News.com article:
"The so-called Real ID Act now heads to President Bush, who is expected to sign the bill into law this month. Its backers, including the Bush administration, say it's needed to stop illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers' licenses.
If the act's mandates take effect in May 2008, as expected, Americans will be required to obtain federally approved ID cards with "machine readable technology" that abides by Department of Homeland Security specifications. Anyone without such an ID card will be effectively prohibited from traveling by air or Amtrak, opening a bank account, or entering federal buildings."
This thing was sleazily put into a larger bill.
Wired article here.