Real ID will not make people any safer no matter how people strive and spin it. In reality people will be less safe from tyranny and despotism than ever before for the reason that it doesn’t come from outside forces but right here in the homeland; our own backyard (AJY, 2005). The terrorist attacks of September 11 have revived proposals for a national identity card system as a way to confirm the identity of airline passengers and keep away from terrorists from entering the country (Kristof and Stanley, 2004). For instance, the Chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp., Larry Ellison, lately called for the creation of a national ID system and offered to make available the software for it without charge.
The newest calls for a national ID are only the latest in a long series of proposals that have cropped up repeatedly over the past decade, typically in the framework of immigration policy, but also in connection with gun control or health care reform. But the creation of a national I.D. card remains a misplaced, superficial "quick fix." It offers only a false sense of security and will not enhance our security but will pose serious threats to the civil liberties and civil rights. A National ID will not keep people safe or free.
The problem is the card itself. No matter how unforgeable we make it, it will be forged. And even worse, people will get legitimate cards in fraudulent names (Schneier, 2004). A national ID card system will not avoid terrorism. It would not have thwarted the September 11 hijackers, for instance, lot of whom reportedly had identification documents on them, and were in the country legally. Terrorists and criminals will continue to be able to get by legal and illegal means the documents needed to get a government ID, such as birth certificates.
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Yes, these new documents will have data like digital fingerprints on them, but that won't show real identity just that the carrier has obtained what could without difficulty be a fraudulent document. And their creation would not justify the cost to American taxpayers, which according to the Social Security Administration would be at least $4 billion. It is an impractical and ineffective proposal a simplistic and naïve try to use gee-whiz technology to solve difficult social and economic problems.
A national ID card system would not protect us from terrorism, but it would construct a system of internal passports that would extensively diminish the freedom and privacy of law-abiding citizens. Once put in place, it is extremely unlikely that such a system would be restricted to its original purpose. Social Security numbers, for instance, were initially intended to be used only to administer the retirement program. But that limit has been routinely ignored and steadily abandoned over the past 50 years. A national ID system would threaten the privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and gradually amplify the control that government and business wields over everyday citizens (Miller, 1995).
What happens when an ID card is stolen? What proof is used to make a decision that gets a card? A national ID would require a governmental database of every person in the U.S. containing continually updated identifying information. It would likely contain numerous errors, any one of which could render someone unemployable and probably much worse until they get their "file" straightened out. And once that database was created, its use would almost certainly expand. Law enforcement and other government agencies would soon ask to link into it, while employers, direct mailers, landlords, private investigators, landlords, credit agencies, mortgage brokers, civil litigants, and a long list of other parties would begin seeking access, further eroding the privacy that Americans have always expected in their personal lives.
Americans have long had a visceral aversion to building a society in which the authorities could act like totalitarian sentries and demand "your papers please!" And that everyday intrusiveness would be conjoined with the full power of modern computer and database technology. When a police officer or security guard scans your ID card with his pocket bar-code reader, for instance, will a permanent record be created of that check, including the time and your location? How long before office buildings, doctors' offices, gas stations, highway tolls, subways and buses incorporate the ID card into their security or payment systems for greater efficiency? The end result could be a nation where citizens' movements inside their own country are monitored and recorded through these "internal passports."
Rather than eliminating discrimination, as some have claimed, a national identity card would foster new forms of discrimination and harassment of anyone perceived as looking or sounding "foreign." That is what happened after Congress passed the Employer Sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1985: widespread discrimination against foreign-looking American workers, particularly Asians and Hipics. A 1990 General Accounting Office study found almost 20 percent of employers engaged in such practices.
A national ID card would have the same effect on a massive scale, as Latinos, Asians, Caribbean’s and other minorities became subject to ceaseless status and identity checks from police, banks, merchants and others. Failure to carry a national I.D. card would likely come to be viewed as a reason for search, detention or arrest of minorities. The stigma and humiliation of constantly having to prove that they are Americans or legal immigrants would weigh heavily on such groups.
National ID is an extremely terrible idea it really isn't clear to me that a national ID card does not make identification more reliable as well as realizing important economic savings by standardization. In particular while I agree that using one ID system introduces an ordinary point of high value failure it also economically feasible to invest a great deal more in the ID system. If one ID replaces n IDs you can make the ID cost roughly about the sum of the costs of all those other IDs. If one national ID replaced our entire driver's licenses, passports, credit cards and so forth it could afford more sophisticated safeguards than any of the former IDs individually.
National ID system is a bad idea. Unfortunately, insecure and badly abused national ID system already exist the Social Security Number. Using SSN and Driver's Licenses as ID systems is bad, bad, bad. There are little or no regulations governing how these data can be used and this result in the current state of things: with your name and SSN, an identity thief can wreak havoc on your life. With a plain, secure, and open architecture for individual ID's, then we, as citizens, could take power over how our identities are used and disseminated for things like insurance forms, employment applications, credit applications, etc. Unfortunately, the need to positively identify and track an individual for these purposes is a stone cold part of daily life.
Rather than reject outright the notion of any form of national ID we should be actively working towards an architecture that actually works and provides safeguards for our personal information, while at the same time making application processes easier and more streamlined. Honestly, it makes me fume that I have to fill out my personal and insurance information every time I go to any medical professional. Why can't I enter a PIN number or password into a secured touch pad and automatically authorize the download of my information automatically? Enabling this sort of ability would be moving forward, not backward.
AJY, Real ID Act Is Our National ID Card; Real Bad, Real Stupid, 2005 <http://www.azoidx.com/archives/2005/05/11/14.41.08/index.asp>
Bruce Schneier. A National ID Card Wouldn't Make Us Safer. Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2004 ;http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/05/real_id.html;
Kristof and Jay Stanley. Should the U.S. adopt a national ID card system? Many countries issue national ID cards. Post-9/11 security concerns have prompted a debate about whether ... ): An article from: New York Times Upfront, Scholastic, Inc., 2004.
Miller, John J. A national ID system: Big brother's solution to illegal immigration, Cato Institute (1995).
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