If you’re not a U.S. resident and you want to activate a new Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) account, E*TRADE requires your “passport, alien, or government ID number.”
From their printable form, “If you are a non-U.S. resident, please attach a photocopy of your passport or government-issued photo identification. We cannot activate your account without this documentation.”
On June 23, 2006, the New York Times reported how “U.S. Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror.”
It stated, “The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions.”
Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to verify the identity of most non-U.S. resident applicants through their employers? Instead, mission creep has set in, with the expansion of tracking suspected members of “Al Qaeda,” to all non-U.S. residents, the overwhelming majority of whom are law-abiding.
This parallels the incrementalist expansion of the US-VISIT program, first instituted in 2004, to fingerprint individuals from select countries, was gradually expanded to visa-exempt countries like EU-member countries, then naturalized Canadian citizens, and even U.S. green card holders.
The U.S. State Department issues optional biometric passports to U.S. citizens, so it may just be a matter of time until the government has the fingerprints of every American citizen seeking to exercise his or her common law right to travel. That is, until the American public draws the line.