Do We Need/Want a National Database to Verify Employees Are Legal?

Ann All

A sweeping Employment Eligibility Verification System that is part of the big immigration bill currently being debated in the U.S. Senate has plenty of folks fretting about Big Brother.


A director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute tells

"Our pictures will be available for government officials to pull up whenever we deal with them and the federal surveillance infrastructure will grow. Watch for news in a few years of government officials and employers using EEVS to play 'Hot or Not' using drivers license photos."

Maybe. However, the federal government's Big Brother tendencies don't worry us nearly as much as its willingness to act like a Big Bully or its record of IT projects that end up being a Big Bust.


The Bush administration consistently plays the national security card in an effort to convince folks that privacy protections really aren't all that important when it comes to the greater good. The slope just doesn't get much more slippery than that.


Among the highlights: the Justice Department requesting broad data sets from search engines and asking Internet companies to hang onto their customer data in an effort to crack down on child porn and the FBI leaning on businesses to get phone records and other confidential consumer data.


The government also shows an unfortunate tendency toward sloppiness when it comes to handling confidential data.


Setting up and maintaining the kind of database needed to underpin the EEVS sure sounds like a tall technical order, doesn't it? Maybe it's a bit much to expect from the feds, whose track record includes spectacular failures such as the FBI's technology modernization project.


The good/bad news is that it looks as if this bill will be mired in debate for the near future. During that time, there is a good chance that the EEVS provision may be redrawn in a less heavy hand.

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