What dates did your mom receive pre-natal care? Don't know? Passport denied!

If you don't have a U.S. passport, the application to get one may become absurdly intrusive. The State Department proposed a Biographical Questionnaire that many may have trouble completing...

If you don't have a U.S. passport yet, then getting one might become even more bizarrely intrusive. The State Department has proposed a new Biographical Questionnaire for passport applicants. Although a notice was posted, the actual proposed form was not published on the Federal Register. However, Papers, Please! - which runs the Identity Project (IDP), a program protecting and promoting First Amendment rights in regards to ID demands - acquired a copy of the proposed biographical questionnaire [Form DS-5513 PDF].

The types and amount of information required on the proposed form is absurd. Failing to answer these questions could result in no passport issued for you. For instance, do you know the address of where your mother lived one year before you were born? How about mom's address when you were born, or the year after you were born? Where was mom employed when you were born, including those dates of employment and the address of employer? At what facility and address did she receive pre-natal or post-natal care? Even if you can search online for that address (if you know), what were the dates of her appointments?

You better have some stellar memory of your birth because you are also required to list all "persons present or in attendance at your birth" - don't forget their addresses or phone numbers. Was there a religious ceremony in connection with your birth? I hope you can recall every job you've ever had since you need to submit lifetime employment history including the names of employers and supervisors, addresses and telephone numbers. You will also be required to list a lifetime history of where you have lived. Plus personal details of parents and all siblings including date and place of their birth.

The U.S. Passport Service Guide states that 13,883,129 passports were issued in 2010, including 1,596,485 passport cards. In December 2010, the new Form DS-11 [PDF] was required for all passport applicants. As of yet, there are no clear-cut guidelines on who all will be required to fill out the proposed questionnaire (Form DS-5513) - just an estimate of 74,000 to whom this form will apply. You will for sure need to answer this form if you were born in the United States and answer "No" to either of these questions: "Was your birth recorded within one year of the date your birth occurred? or "Were you born in a medical facility?"

According to the Supporting Statement [PDF], "The estimated burden of forty-five minutes required per response is based on a sampling of time required to complete this form. The number of respondents is estimated at 74,000 per year. The annual burden is estimated to be 55,500 hours. (74,000 * 45 minutes)." Yet as Papers, Please! points out, it's ludicrous to believe this paperwork could be completed in 45 minutes. Even using Bing or Google to find some answers, 45 minutes could be consumed simply by calling your mom to pump her for information. What if your parents are no longer living? Will you automatically be refused a passport for failing to answer all questions?

The proposed passport form only caught my attention today by a retweet by @privacyint:

Comments will be accepted until tonight (April 25th) at midnight EDT. You go to Regulations.gov and "Submit a Comment." You can read the Docket Folder that holds the 831 comments made so far.

IDP submitted these comments [PDF] which "were co-signed by the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights (CFPHR), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), Privacy Activism, Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), Robert Ellis Smith, and John Gilmore."

The comments on Papers, Please! range from funny answers to the proposed questions to outrage by U.S. citizens. There is also a dash of conspiracy theory in regards to similarities in this proposal and the former "Phoenix Program."

What do you think? Are the types and amount of information being collected over-the-top crazy to obtain a U.S. passport?

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