Many of you have likely seen the Airport Security Game already. I believe the credit goes to JvH for discovering it, but Jones was the one who originally gave me the link. The game is pretty amusing, and I’m absolutely terrible at it. I suppose I’m just not a violator of rights.
Now, onto something a bit more interesting:
Did you know that you are required to submit fingerprint identification in Alberta when applying for a legal name change?
You can read about this at these websites:
Alberta General Public Communique
Since, unfortunately, most of my classmates are unwilling to engage in a lively and fun debate about this, I’m hoping I can find some readers out there who will give this issue the discussion it truely deserves.
Here’s my arguement against this legislation (and yes, I’ve been Mind-Welked to a degree):
I do not agree with the legislation that requires the applicant to provide their fingerprints as part of the application. I feel that this legislation further constricts the freedom of individuals. In the majority of cases, the change of one’s name does not infringe on the rights of others. Someone having the same name as you does not infringe on your rights. That person IMPERSONATING you is an infringement on your rights.
For the sake of this discussion, I will be assuming only adult name changes.
Upon the examination of the Change of Name Act and the Alberta Government Services website, it becomes clear that one cannot change their name on a whim. Any previous name change documentation must be provided, as well as any other relevant paperwork. The Director of Vital Statistics must also impose their discresion as outlined in Section 17.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Director may, in the Director’s discretion, refuse registration of a proposed change of name if in the Director’s opinion the proposed name might
(a) reasonably cause confusion,
(b) be a cause of embarrassment to any other person, or
(c) be used in a manner that could defraud or mislead the public.
(Name Change Act, Section 17)
This section gives the government the right to refuse a name change if it feels that the change is of ill intent. Granted, in the case of identity theft, it is generally difficult to determine if someone is trying to ‘assume’ another’s identity. However, as I stated before, taking on the same name as you does not infringe on your rights.
Another fact that has been missed by most students is that all legal name changes are required to be posted in the Alberta Gazette, unless such a publication would cause prejudice or harm to the applicant (Name Change Act, Section 20).
It is also worth mentioning that adopting the last name of your spouse/common-law partner is not a legal name change. It is easy to change your name in this case, to and from. All you need to do is visit a registry office and pay for the change and it will be done for you, assuming you can produce documentation as required by the Act.
One must also submit fingerprints when applying for a legal name change. This process is for ‘identification-only’ and your fingerprints are NOT added to any databases for reference purposes. (Alberta Public Communique, Pg 4) The only point of the process is to determine if you are within the RCMP fingerprint database. I have assumed that the information in this database is based on information gathered from those charged with an offence and possibly some military and government officials. This process does nothing to protect the individual, or prove identity.
What happens if you provide all your documentation, submit your fingerprints and the prints come back with a record of a past crime? What if you are denied your name change because of this? If you are an invidual trying to move on with your life, a past name may hinder your right to make a living. If you have paid your debt to society as defined by your sentance, why should society continue to punish you? Why are we assuming that all former criminals are still criminals? People can change. People should be allowed to move on with their lives. Besides, providing the necessary documentation for a name change will almost certianly bring past offences into view of the Director.
The only way the fingerprinting step in the name change process would be worthwhile is if the entire population of Canada was fingerprinted and identities could be verified through fingerprints. This option is not viable because of the financial costs, as well as the cost of freedom. Being required to ‘report’ to the government about your identity will only lead to more infringements on our rights.
Based on my reading of the articles and other sources of information, I’ve been able to construct some opposition to the arguements already made in favor of the legislation. I feel that I have adequately discussed how the fingerprinting process does not prove who you are.
Another arguement I have seen is ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide’. If I am guilty of a crime, am I not to be presumed innocent? I feel that the manditory fingerprinting is nothing more than an assumption that the applicant IS hiding something. This is unacceptable. An investigation of a person without due cause is a violation of their rights. Is the investigation of someone who wishes to have a new name any different than an investigation of a random Muslim? I think not. Just because someone has a belief (be that belief that a new name would make life better, or a religion) does not mean they are hiding something.
Everytime the government implements something to increase the safety of the whole, the freedom of a group is hindered. Think about how it will feel when it is your turn to have your freedom taken away. Will your hardship be worthwhile for the whole group?