Intangible License — Fungible Freedom

     One of the more infuriating things about daily life is the need to obtain and have a license to an increasingly large number of things. But at least when you have that physical license in your hot little hands, it’s a done deal and you are free from any subsequent arbitrary and capricious changes or even a take-back, baring some formal legal action, right? Perhaps not anymore when licenses become digital and controllable by remote.

“The Golden State had previously been piloting alternatives to traditional license plates, but a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom late last month extends the option to all drivers.

“The license plate-sized screens display a driver’s license plate number and allow motorists to renew their registration automatically. Users can even change between light and dark modes and customize the plates with personalized banners.”

     The government or the company can update or perhaps even delete a license, even without cause or “by mistake”, let alone what a hacker, rogue bureaucrat, or failed app update could do.

“The company’s so-called RPlate can be equipped with GPS and allows users, including employers, to track a vehicle’s location and mileage.”

     Ah yes, there are promises to protect your privacy, but clearly the desire to retain the capacity to violate it whenever they want.

     But license plates are only the beginning. People are increasingly using smart phones and using their phone with apps for access to locations, or as tickets to some event, or proof of vaccination—perhaps even as the primary or even sole form of ID. Image the consequences of having a drivers or concealed carry license disappear by either technological incompetence or by malevolence, or birth records with no paper trail to be changed, invented, or deleted by mere strokes of a keyboard. How sure can you be that something even existed if there is no paper trail even possible?

You trust technology, right?

     We are not at that point yet, but the lure of “convenience” and “cost savings” may be too much to prevent it from becoming dominant and increasingly making it difficult for people who want physical proof, if not make it impossible completely.

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