The concept of a national ID card has been debated in the United States for over three decades. In the past, the opposition as well as its allies has been strong. As a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks there has been new interest in the concept of national ID cards. While this idea is not all a new, it is closer to becoming more of a reality than ever, gaining the approval by the key members of congress. Currently the Bush Administration objects this renewed idea, however due to the intense emotion from the recent terrorist attacks the nation is closer to the idea than ever before. The idea of a national identity (ID) card seems simple enough. Take the photographic and alpha-numerical information on our birth certificates, Social Security cards, driver s licenses, and voter registration card; add a bar code, fingerprint, microchip, or other biometric identifier; and display all that information on a neat plastic card no bigger than a credit card. But beneath this smooth surface hides a complex issues and perhaps the greatest threat to personal freedom Americans have ever confronted. A national ID system will Require Americans to obtain federal government authorization to travel, work, rent or buy housing, obtain medical care, use financial services, and make many purchases.
This federal authorization could be denied for many reasons, including database errors, a suspicious transaction profile, being a deadbeat parent, failure to pay taxes or fines, and any other social control measures Congress wishes to hang on the system.
The system will almost certainly create an outlaw class--as large as 10 to 20% of the population--cut off from "normal" life in America. This outlaw class will sustain the underground economy for the use of future terrorists (and ordinary criminals). (Dority Barbara, p10)
The general questions about national ID cards and concepts involved in the debates, found on the Privacy International website at www.privacy.org/pi/activities/idcard/idcard_faq.html. Can be summarized as below:
1. Who uses ID cards now? About a hundred countries currently utilize official, compulsory, national IDs for various purposes. These include Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, and Spain. Among the developed countries that don't have such a card are Australia, Canad...
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... promote new forms of discrimination and harassment of anyone who looks or sounds "foreign." 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 disgrace and humiliation of constantly having to prove that they are Americans or legal immigrants would ponder heavily on such groups.
There I strongly believe that national ID system is not the solution for the problems we are facing today. We have seen before that technological solutions involve risks that should be identified and understood in advance of its use to the greatest extent possible. These risks should be discussed and understood in detail before any decisions regarding its adoption is any form should be made.
Dority, Barbara. ?Halt and show your paper!? Humanist. 1 March.2002, Vol.62 Issue 2
Mohl, Jeff. ?How public is personal information?? Communications & Mass Media Complete, 1 September 2003, Vol. 91, Issue 7
Safire, William. ?The Threat of National ID.? Kirszner and Mandell 586-88.
Privacy International www.privacy.org/pi/activities/idcard/idcard_faq.html.
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