25 December 2014
Can one travel in the US without the government keeping track of your location?
The TSA says it is possible to fly without ID, but then goes on to state that you still have to prove your identity in some way. If the purpose is to thwart hijackings, then it should be sufficient to simply give anonymous passengers additional screening. But that's not the purpose of ID.
Alternatively, one could take the train. Unfortunately the TSA is also in charge of train security, so Amtrak also requires identification. It is either checked when the ticket is purchased, or on the train by the conductor. Long-haul bus lines are the same, with spot-checks by TSA's VIPR teams.
Automobiles require a driver's licence to operate. This makes sense since one is operating a machine that could trivially cause a million dollars of damage and/or loss of life. As long as one drives carefully, it is unlikely that the licence will be examined by a government agent. However, the licence plate is definitely going the be read by automatic licence plate readers. While this does not directly identify the occupant(s) of the vehicle, it does provide a pretty tight connection (unless one steals a random car).
It wasn't always this way. We used to make fun of the Soviet Union for its lack of freedom of travel ("papers please"). A defining freedom of the United States disappeared, yet there was no popular push-back. This should give concern to those fighting against the dismantling of other freedoms, such as network-neutrality, or owning things you purchase.
We have literally reached a point where the only way to travel long distances anonymously is to use a horse.