Re: Moving toward a police state?

From: Chris Hibbert (
Date: Fri Nov 30 2001 - 03:16:11 MST

Mike Lorrey responded to something Amara wrote (in response to something
of Samantha's that's not relevant here.)

> > [because of terrorism at the Munich Olympics] the German government
> > initiated a new law to "register" people [...]. This
> > law applies to all people, not only to foreigners
> > like me. So if a German citizen wants to move one floor down in an
> > apartment building, for example, they would be breaking the law if
> > they didn't register their new address within a short period of time.
> This is the law in most all countries. It is the law here in the US. In
> most states, it is the law to report any change of address to the DMV
> within 10-45 days after moving. It has been this way for decades. The
> difference is that most all police will only treat it as an advisory
> thing. I don't know of anyone they've actually prosecuted for not doing
> so.

There's a distinction between the form of the law in the US and the form
that Amara is complaining about. There's no law that all citizens in
the US have to have their residences registered with the police. If you
don't have a driver's license, you don't have to tell the DMV when you
move. If you have a PO box listed on your license, you don't have to
tell them when you move, unless you move to a different state. (There
are people who neither drive, nor have a DMV-issued "alternative ID".)

When there's a law on the books that isn't enforced uniformly, that's an
opportunity for police and prosecutors to enforce it selectively. That
doesn't show that the law has no effect, it shows that everyone is at
risk of falling under the emnity of someone with power to enforce laws
you didn't realize you were violating. "Everybody does it" isn't an
excuse in the eyes of the court, but it often explains why someone
didn't realize that a technical violation was, in fact a violation.


protecting privacy in the computer age is 
like trying to change a tire on a moving car.
 --Colin Bennett

Chris Hibbert

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