Signal Boost

My Twitter feed is abuzz with news from Consumer Traveler. Apparently today is the last day to comment on a proposed broad expansion of the application some* people will need to fill out in order to request a U.S. passport:
The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for some passport applicants: The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information. According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

Wow. I'm mostly speechless.

You may submit your comments here until Midnight Eastern/11 Central tonight.

*To my knowledge, the State Department hasn't yet spelled out who would be subjected to the new application.

ETA: FYI, the text of my comment to the DoS is below the fold

I have several concerns about the Department of State's proposed Information Collection: DS–5513, Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport, 1405–XXXX.

This form erases the reality of the many people who do not have one mother and one father. While form DS-11 includes two entries for “Mother/Father/Parent”, the proposed DS-5513 includes entries for “Father” and “Mother.”

It is not entirely clear who will be required to complete the proposed application, as the methodology for determining what constitutes citizenship or identity evidence that is of “questionable authenticity” is ill-defined. Given the apparent broad discretion the federal government and its employees will have in making this assessment, there exists the significant potential for government agents to require this application in a discriminatory manner.

It is unrealistic to expect all applicants to have access to all of the information the proposed form requires. As an example, while I was present at my daughter's birth, I do not have (and would be hard-pressed to recreate) a list of the dozen or so physicians present at the time.

The relationship between the totality of information form DS-5513 requires and passport eligibility is unclear.

For some individuals (e.g., persons who have undergone gender transition), providing the contact information for all former employers could be dangerous, should the Department of State choose to contact these employers to discuss the applicant's case.

Thus, not only is there a significant opening for the federal government and its agents to use this proposed form in order to harass, intimidate, and otherwise discriminate against passport applicants, the use of the new form could unintentionally endanger the safety of said applicants.

I urge you to reconsider your proposal.

Kate Forbes, Ph.D.

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