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Are National ID Cards a Good Idea?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the we-already-have-driver's-licenses-and-passports dept.

746

Dracophile asks: "The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran a front-page article about a 'smart card' to access government services and that it would double as a national identity card. The article points out that the current Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, who fiercely opposed from opposition the Australia Card idea in 1985, is now a supporter. The article goes on to say that about 100 nations have some form of ID card. Is your country one of them? What concerns were raised? How were they addressed? Have welfare fraud and other identity-related crimes decreased? Have National ID cards improved or deteriorated conditions where you live?"

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746 comments

One word: (4, Funny)

rune2 (547599) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217139)

No

Re:One word: (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217173)

In Canada we have identity cards for various services, such as our national medicare plan, but we don't "mix-n-match" the data too much.

when it was found that HRDC (Human Resources Development Canada) HAD created a sort of "master database", the newspapers were quick to jump on it, and one of them printed up directions and a form to request your complete file. 29,000 people responded. Rather than comply within the 30 day limit, they destroyed the database.

Score one for the little guys.

Re:One word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217401)

National medicare plan? A national card? WTF are you talking about?
I've got one for BC, and had to get a different one when I moved to Alberta.

Re:One word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217442)

Somehow, I don't think they destroyed the database. They say they did, but what about the procedure to produce it again, under a different guise? If done once, it can be done again, next time with better "leak" security.

Re:One word: (1)

ebuilder (209792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217297)

NO, Is right.
Most of our safety and well being as citizens can be satisfied by a relatively small set of laws, after that the advances in safety, prosperity and happiness are minimal. Life isn't safe and it doesn't fit neatly into a database either. Risk and a certain degree of randomness are facts like death that must just be accepted and dealt with. When we don't deal with it we loose things that we can have like freedom.

Absolutely not (3, Insightful)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217142)

These things do almost nothing but enable the governement to trample individual rights. This is a Very Bad Thing; the less data on me the government has, the happier I'll be; not because I'm a terrorist, but simply because I think that my civil rights are important.

Re:Absolutely not (2, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217226)

These things do almost nothing but enable the governement to trample individual rights.

Please tell me you have concrete examples of this, and aren't just talking out your ass.

Perhaps you could discuss how the California State Driver's License, which doubles as a state ID, does "almost nothing but enable the [state] government to trample individual rights".

Re:Absolutely not (2, Informative)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217308)

Please tell me you have concrete examples of this, and aren't just talking out your ass.

The Nazis used this sort of data to round up Jews, Homersexuals and Race Traitors and send them to the ovens.

On a less shrill note, they won't stop fraud or do anything else they claim to better than what we already have, so all that's left is abuse.

Re:Absolutely not (2, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217343)

Does everyone in California have a drivers license? Do you have to present that license when asked any time other than when you are actually in a vehicle?

Mod GP down & parent up. (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217468)

The GP obviously does NOT understand what a "national" ID is.

In California there are lots and lots of illegal immigrants who seem to have no problem getting a job, living quarters and such despite the fact that they shouldn't be able to get a CA drivers license.

So, having one item that can be used for identification purposes is not the same as having one item that DOES identify you.

Re:Absolutely not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217237)

You must have something to hide. Otherwise you wouldn't worry, right?

infowars.com

Re:Absolutely not (1, Troll)

randyest (589159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217238)

What kind of rights, exactly, to ID cards facilitate the "trampling of?" Do those rights include the "right" to get welfare, healthcare, and other entitlements despite being an illegal alien and/or a wanted criminal?

Re:Absolutely not (5, Insightful)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217242)

This is the answer we hear most often and it is often the most frustrating because it offers nothing but vague warnings...in the parlance of slashdot: FUD. So maybe some folks here can enumerate some SPECIFIC examples of how this will "trample individual rights". Since, as the question states, there are other countries doing this we should have some recent historical data to back up such claims. My gut is against National IDS but having real, well-argued, reasons to be against them will go a lot further in preventing them than simply stating that we will lose our rights and that they are bad.

Re:Absolutely not (3, Interesting)

Shelled (81123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217466)

There are many examples of goverment programs and statutues which quickly morphed well beyond the original intent. Income tax was a temporary measure to fund World War 1. The 65 mph speed limit began as another temporary measure to reduce gas consumption during an oil embargo by Middle East producers in the 1970's. Now it's a major law enforcement revenue stream under the rubric 'safety' and some countries are even contemplating permamently tracking all vehicles for compliance to speed limits. The RICO statutes were passed to regulate intersate commerce and are now the foundations of a mass of laws the American Founders would never have dreamed. Copyright, distorted immeasurably beyond it's origins into a means to regulate the flow of information (wake up if you don't believe that's what DRM not only is, but requires.) The laws created to support the war on drugs alone should be more than enough to convince anyone that, for whatever reasons, government continually strive to expand its power. You don't think something as powerful a single, mandatory way to track an individual's history won't be abused? We're 'utilitarianing' ourselves straight to hell.

Don't Question the Authorities (1)

wintermute1974 (596184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217256)

You should retract your statement, human #4,321,982,324.

Don't forget we have embarrassing records on you starting from the day you were born.

Sincerely,

- The Authorities

"This will go down on your permanent record" (1, Funny)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217336)

I guess that phrase will have new meaning...

Re:Absolutely not (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217269)

To sum up an answer to the flames, I will say this: These are designed to regulate freedom of movement, which I view as a fundamental right. Notice, on Wikipedia, how long the "Criticisms" are in comparison to the "arguments in favor."

Re:Absolutely not (1)

icj (852635) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217333)

'To sum up an answer to the flames, I will say this: These are designed to regulate freedom of movement.' ..... I'll bite. How is a card going to regulate your freedom of movement?

Re:Absolutely not (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217429)

This is of course completely different to your passport, which is... umm... a form of identification designed to... erm... regulate freedom of movement?

I fail to see how an ID card, even a compulsory one, lets the government know any more about you than everything else it knows. All it does is tie various things together, meaning (in an ideal world) taking me as an example, my:

Passport number, national insurance number, NHS number, driver's number, blood service number, student ID number, railcard number, bus pass number, school ID card number (for two sites), CRB check number, voting number, BCU member number, Connexions card number, UCAS reference number, store loyalty card number, and probably several more obvious ones I forgot as well as countless minor ones.

Are all replaced by:

National ID number

There's no more information out there about me than there is right now. It's just 20 less numbers to worry about. I'm all in favour, especially if a basic part of the ID mechanism is made available to non-government systems (It only has to perform a basic 'genuine card?' handshake and send my ID number) so that I don't need a seperate ID card for every damn building I need a card to enter.

Re:Absolutely not (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217285)

National ID cards are not there to trample individual rights.

Compulsory national ID cards that you are required to carry with you at all times are!

Re:Absolutely not (1)

Josh Hiles (970528) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217357)

National ID cards you need to access goverment services are here to trample your rights. Papers please?

Re:Absolutely not (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217296)

These things do almost nothing but enable the governement to trample individual rights.

How, exactly, does a mandatory ID card do that? What kind of abuse will become possible that isn't already so?

Re:Absolutely not (2, Informative)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217322)

On the other hand, it would enable a secure method of controlling who can have access to your identity. Right now all I need is your social security number, your name, and a couple of details like your address and I can get credit in your name. I'd much rather have a strong smart card that authorized the use of my identity and credentials before any financial transactions could take place. I don't fear my government, I fear the identity thieves.

Re:Absolutely not (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217328)

They can have all my data if they want. Mere collection doesn't affect me or my civil rights, provided it is done with my full consent, or at the very least doesn't require any effort on my part. How it is used is another story altogether. This is where any restrictions should apply. I kind of like the idea of one stop shopping for all my data. Convenience is nice. If anybody tries to use that data against me in any fashion whatsoever, I'll do what I can to make sure that person or group hangs from the highest tree possible.

Re:Absolutely not (1)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217423)

the less data on me the government has, the happier I'll be

I understand the insta-kneejerk generalized reaction. I really do. There are lots of forms of abuse something like this can entail... but a picture-ID with DOB and a unique number is not valuable nor new information.

Can someone please inform me about the information they are going to keep on me and my id card that isn't in my tax return? Please? Anyone?

Re:Absolutely not (1)

humphrm (18130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217462)

A long time ago, you actually were issued a Social Security Card in the US (maybe still are) but it actually meant something. The bearer could actually use it as ID. Over time, the physical card itself lost significance but the number became a very hot topic and the use of this card as ID is waning.

Back then, some people got SSN's (and cards), and some people ... who wanted anonymity ... did not. If you wanted to get government services, you had to have an SSN. If you wanted anonymity, you had to give up the dole.

My first point is, that's not so bad. As a taxpayer, I don't think it's fair to hand out free money and services from my tax dollars to anyone who shows up and asks for it. If you want my tax dollars, you need to give something up for it. Boo hoo.

So in that context, a system like Australia's really all that bad. The militia nuts who want to stay completely off the government's radar are free to do so. They just won't get any government services, that's a fair price for their anonymity. The converse is true... the price for a free handout is their anonymity.

No. (-1, Redundant)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217144)

Next question?

Re:No. (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217167)

Well, you beat me by about half a second, but I think we might both get karma-spanked momentarily... All the ACs posting the same idea before us got modded into oblivion. :(

no (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217145)

no

No. (0, Troll)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217148)

No.

Do I really need to say anything else? If you have to ask, we disagree so fundamentally on the definition of "freedom" that I'd accomplish nothing more than waste wear-and-tear on my keyboard to continue further.

Overzealous Mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217230)

So we have three posts saysing the same thing. Big deal. They all posted within a minute of each other.

Do your jobs properly, mods.

Re:Overzealous Mods (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217306)

Do your jobs properly, mods.

Though I have to grant that by the time I managed to post, I did count as (unknowingly) redundant, I think it really says something that the VERY FIRST POST to this thread got modded out of existence as "redundant".

Evidently the Gods-O'-Slashdot didn't consider "no" the right answer.

INFOWARS.COM (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217154)

INFOWARS.COM

enough said.

Re:INFOWARS.COM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217179)

Alex Jones. 'nuff said!

Re:INFOWARS.COM (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217198)

Anonymous Coward,

We have logged your IP of 127.0.0.1 and are currently working on terminating your Internet connection in order to keep citizens from becoming informed.

Sincerely,
Dept. of Ho----

Of Course It's a Bad Idea! (1, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217156)

A national ID card would put us on the slippery slope straight to an oppressive totalitarian regime!

Just like establishing a police force has resulted in a police state!

And setting up a military has resulted in a military dictatorship!

And don't forget how totally oppressed Californian dissenters are, now that California has a state ID card!

Re:Of Course It's a Bad Idea! (1, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217246)

Just like establishing a police force has resulted in a police state!

Sure, we have the highest per-capita inmate population, and Amnesty International has scolded us for how we treat them. But we don't have a police state, really!


And setting up a military has resulted in a military dictatorship!

So YOU define "A government composed of an undemocratically chosen leader who maintains his position by a continuous series of aggressive military campaigns, both against foreign nations and his own populace".


And don't forget how totally oppressed Californian dissenters are

Especially the San Fransiscan ones who dare to follow their own state's law regarding medical marijuana. But don't worry, the DOJ cerrtainly wouldn't resort to stacking the jury, concealing evidence, kidnapping, and murder to make their point, right? They'd just peacefully take us back to your first point.


Uhhh...

What point did you mean to make at first?

Re:Of Course It's a Bad Idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217484)

Just a point here. The United States of America has *NEVER* had a democratically chosen leader. Just because you go vote doesn't mean it actually counts. The president is not elected by popular vote, he/she is elected by by the Electors. Believe it or not the Electors (at least in many states) are not even required to vote for the person who recieved the plurality of votes in that state. This is not a democracy that we live in. It is a republic. To the best of my knowledge there are no true democracies in the world, only replubics playing make-believe.

Re:Of Course It's a Bad Idea! (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217287)

Of course, in our lovely world, police states and military dictatorships are fictions. But even if they were real, it could never happen at home. Whew! I was worried for a second there.

Re:Of Course It's a Bad Idea! (5, Interesting)

JPriest (547211) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217320)

I live on the NY/PA border and I have met people who get in trouble with the law (are wanted by the police) and they move 5 MILES SOUTH and are never picked up by the police. If they get in trouble in PA the NY warrants don't even show up on their record. People complain about the ability to keep correct records and track illegal's but regular citizens beat the system all the time just by moving state to state.

Also, if I have a fak NY ID many NY police would spot it in a second, if I hand them a fake Iowa drivers license it would slip right by.

I am mostly libertarian and even I support having a national ID system.

Yes (5, Insightful)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217159)

Here in the US, the social security number (and other *very* insecure methods) are already used as identification. (even though it's illegal)

It's way too easy to impersonate me right now. I'd like a smart card with a pin/biometric setup.

If you're reasons for not wanting an national ID are because the government will accumulate massive amounts of data about you, news flash: it's too late. They're already doing it. I'd rather they do it in a secure manner.

Re:Yes (1, Insightful)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217233)

[gets his metaphor on]

So, they're raping you illegally. Been doing it for years. Now, they're offering to rape you a lot more thoroughly, and remove your legal right to complain or stop them, but it's OK, cos they promise to use a condom, and after all, they have proved very trustworthy in the past, so why not?

Re:Yes (1)

cahiha (873942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217368)

You're making the erroneous assumption that the prohibition against using the social security number as a unique identifier is a prohibition against using any unique identifiers at all. In fact, it is not, and modern societies need reliable, unique identifiers for individuals.

What do you suggest insurance companies, banks, etc. use instead? Your name? Many people would get royally screwed that way, as some John Smith withdraws some other John Smith's money. Or would you prefer if we just let modern commerce come to a halt? Or, perhaps, you prefer rampant identity theft instead?

Re:Yes (1)

Mydron (456525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217330)

Oh please. Impersonate you to do what? Identity theft is basically credit card or credit rating.

Don't foist your paranoia on everyone just because you want to enjoy the supposed convenience of electronic fund transfers and pre-approved credit. Instead try the following:

1) Demand better from your financial institutions -- not your government.
2) Don't use your SSN/SIN, raise hell when someone claims that it is necessary
3) Use cash (don't have a CC/debt) (its also)
4) Put a hold on your credit rating

Re:Yes (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217340)

You bring up a legitimate question, but it assumes something. If a national id is to bring more security, all other insecure forms of identification must be destroyed or rendered invalid.

Example: in the past few years there have been 2 new types of bills for everything from $5 to $50. Government officials justify this saying that the new bills are harder to copy. We all know that as long as older bills are legal tender, the new bill can only hurt things, because now a clerk must be familiar with 3 versions of all the bills.

Simply introducing a new form of identification just gives another way for theives to do their work.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217397)

The problem with your line of thinking is that you assume we need an ID card to prevent identity theft. Sadly, the reason why identities can be stolen is that we already have universal identifiers (Social Security #s, bank account numbers + PINS, credit card numbers, etc) that can be used anywhere by someone who steals them and knows what they're doing. The only way to prevent theft of identity is to have no identity, or at least have no universally-accepted identification code. Introducing yet another identifier, such as a biometric signature paired with a PIN code, and linking it to our existing identifiers will only make us more vulnerable to identity thieves once the thieves figure out how to successfully steal and utilize our personal identifiers. Biometrics have been, can be, and will be spoofed. PIN numbers can be stolen via hacking or social engineering.

In short, I believe that national ID cards will make us more vulnerable to identity theft.

Re:Yes (2, Interesting)

ebuilder (209792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217405)

So, we just throw our hands up and cross over completely? Are you willing to have an RFID chip implanted as well? I don't believe the government or anyone in particular is out to get me, but I hate the idea, privacy is good thing we are giving it away by the fist full lately. They may as well just scrap the social security cards anyway, it is a system that will inevitably fail, I don't plan on getting any benefits. Lets move in the right direction instead of shoveling away our individuality and freedom.

9 out of 10 Fascists agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217164)

National ID cards are a very good thing indeed!

Its not an identity card.... (4, Interesting)

Macondo (836066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217182)

The politicians in this country are reticient to use the word id. They prefer access card. Also we do have a choice of whether to get one. Of course if you don't then you can't access government medical and welfare services. Funnily enough this was announced on the same day that the government said it wants an Australian Citizenship test to make sure you're Australian enough before entering the country. Yep we're really laid back over here.

Re:Its not an identity card.... (1)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217281)

The test you speak of is a basic english competency test, ie they want you to be able to speak rudimentary english in order to become a citizen of Australia. There's nothing wrong with that in my opinion - you should be able to communicate in the national language if you want to be part of the country. If not, just get permanent residency or something.

Re:Its not an identity card.... (1)

Macondo (836066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217339)

Yes, an english competency test is part of the planned test. Their is also going to be a componant to test the knowledge of Australian culture and history. It is this part that is of concern.

A composted rose, by any other name, ... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217302)

... would small as bad.

No? (2, Insightful)

LordoftheLemmings (773163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217187)

Thats all you can say? Your goverement will trample your rights as individuals by haveing a standerdized way of telling who is who? I honestly think a national ID would be a good thing (at least here in the US). Every work a cash register and have to card someone with an out of state ID? Its easy to get away with a fake ID if you make it from a state most people are not familiar with.

Re:No? (4, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217432)

Thats all you can say?

That should be enough. Governments are great until people get into power who begin to create lists of who are good and who are bad. Why help them in this cause? Freedom demands privacy.

"Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds."

  John Perry Barlow

What about drivers licences? (1, Redundant)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217200)

Do these not count as IDs? I think here in California an ID is required.

Re:What about drivers licences? (0, Redundant)

JetFox (868640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217435)

They do count as ID. However, it is not required to get a driver's licence. There are still people who do not drive (and others who drive, just never register).

Schneier on National ID Cards (5, Informative)

iago (4917) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217203)

http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0404.html#1 [schneier.com]

I'd throw in my opinion, but I'll defer to Bruce.

Shneier is wrong (3, Insightful)

cahiha (873942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217440)

Shneier starts with a bunch of wrong assumptions: he assumes that national ID cards are needed for fighting terrorism and he assumes that they require a central database. Both of those are bogus assumptions.

The purpose of national ID cards is so that you can identify yourself reliably to other people if the transaction requires it. National ID cards make it hard for people to impersonate you, and that's a good thing. They are much less useful in identifying people who don't want to be identified (e.g., terrorists).

National ID cards also don't require a centralized database. Such databases are often incorporated into national ID card proposals, but they are not an intrinsic part of a national ID card system and are probably a bad idea.

The fact is that the US already has a national ID card system in place, it just happens to be poorly designed and permits rampant identity theft. That ought to be fixed by creating an ID card system. If done correctly, everybody ends up with more protection against identity theft and with more control over their personal information than they now have.

PGP GPG et alia (4, Insightful)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217208)

What about the need for unambiguous, authenticated, recognized proof of identity? Certainly we have long since entered the age of digital sigantures. Short of being able to provide a thumbprint, blood sample, photo, and voiceprint convieniently to anyone, a compact and secure card/ID would be the next best answer.

We can't just wish ID theft away, and the current methods of "protection" are little more than that.

Re:PGP GPG et alia (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217295)

We already have that, its called a drivers license or an 18 plus card if you can't drive, this isn't America, we only have 6 states and 2 major territories. It's not that hard to remember what they all look like. Especially when they basically all use the same security methods. Yes you can get a fake one, but you could get that for any ID card the government brought out.

A terrible idea. (4, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217224)

As an Australian Citizen I think this is a terrible idea and it will not stop any fraud, terrorism or whatever stupid reason the government dreams up to tell the public.

Firstly they will be able to be forged, just because it will be a smart card doesn't mean that you will not be able to make another one. All that you would need to duplicate the smart card is to read all the current data off the card then to program an emulator on your own card to spit out those values whenever they are requested, this is the way that a GSM card can be copied. Couple that with the current equipment that forgers use and you have a duplicate card.

However the point is kind of moot, we already have a medicare card that we need to carry around at all times should we want medical care.
I for one will be writing a letter to my local MP, I suggest all Australians do the same.

Even then the "liberal" party have a majority in government... there really isn't that much we can do.

Coming from a country with a national ID card... (5, Informative)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217235)

...I personally don't see what's the big fuss about. Back in Slovakia, we've got national ID cards (called "Citizen's Card"). We use them only for identification; the same way I use a driver's license in the US. the ID cards have five pieces of information: Your picture, name, address, date of birth, and a unique ID number. This makes it no different from a US driver's license, with the small distinction that with the exception of writing personal checks you don't give out your DL number. Instead, you use the social security number as your identifier.

Of course, I don't dispute that ID cards can be abused, for example by having them carry much more of your personal information. However, that's not the ID card's fault; it's the responsibility of the government to determine which information will be available through an ID card.

Re:Coming from a country with a national ID card.. (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217315)

The difference here may be in the federalist form of government that the US supposedly has. I don't know if Slovakia has a similar governmental model, but in the US, there are some matters were state/municipal governments are meant to have powers over citizens that the federal government is not.

In the view of some Americans, it's okay (or at least tolerable) to have state-issued ID cards but not okay for the federal government to do the same. Sadly, the feds catalog us already through the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, so it would appear to be a moot point.

Depends (4, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217240)

Absent any other factors, I think most slashdotters would say that not having a country-wide ID card is greatly preferable to having one.

But there are other factors. Some recent debates in the US highlights these well: the need for identification to fly, and the need for identification for voter registration. In other words, ID is already necessary to fully participate in the society.

But when ID is necessary in practice, the question shifts to one of access - can all citizens gain access to valid ID equally? And from the debates (especially regarding voting), it seems that perhaps not. A national ID card - issued for everyone, and presumably for free or at a very, very low cost, since it is mandatory - would equalize access to something that is already neccessary.

Make sure you're protesting the right thing.

Re:Depends (1)

Cloudface (702721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217290)

You're right--ID is necessary to fully participate but it isn't truly mandatory. I think part of the problem with a national ID card is that it would somehow be a mandatory step forward--one *would* be expected to have one's papers at the ready at the checkout line, so to speak.

Voting (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217244)

I'll tell you what I am getting tired of--the state of VOTING!

Crappy machines on the one hand, and identity fraud on the other. It's ridiculous. One party or the other opposes any and all kinds of reform.

So let's get a paper trail (no more e-voting, thank you!)

And let's get id checks to vote.

I would have thought these would have been completely non-controversial...but apparently they are.

--

In conclusion, any kind of national ID, free to those who need it freely, that proves citizenship and can be used by states to verify voter ID, (and that can also be used by the fed govt for benefits) is about the only reason I would want a national ID.

How to block national ID cards. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217379)

... let's get id checks to vote.

Here's how to block national ID cards:

Get the Republicans to add a rider requiring the cards and their associated I.D. numbers be used to insure that only qualified voters (citizens, non-felons in jurisdictions where that matters) vote in federal elections and that no individual votes more than once in a given election.

The Democrats (the major beneficiaries of voting by illegals, felons, multiple voters, dead voters, and motor-voter + permanent absentee ballot virtual voters), will then be 100% against it. Even including a rider requiring audit trails on voting machine systems won't swing enough of them to matter.

Meanwhile some of the Republicans will oppose it because of the big-brother invasiveness.

And that's the necessary majority to kill it.

The Truth QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217252)

Do you want the truth of why some people oppose national ID cards?

Here is the Truth. It's a basically a Libertarian fantasy -- they want to believe that "just in case" they can disappear and not have to pay taxes to the OH SO SCARY government that is going to break down their door and READ THEIR OH SO SECRET DOCUMENTS.

In other words, it comes down to vanity. These people want to believe that they're so important that having a national ID card would somehow bring about the fall of the country.

The truth, of course, is that they ain't that important. NO ONE is so important that they need to (or even CAN) disappear like that.

Earth to Libertarians: we are not repealing taxation. You WILL pay taxes. Avoiding a national ID card is not going to make it so you don't have to pay taxes.

Re:The Truth QWZX (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217419)

You're obviously too young to remember World War II or the horror stories that were uncovered during the cleanup after it.

You don't disappear to avoid taxes. You disappear when a government gone bad decides you're an annoyance to be handled with "extreme prejudice".

Information (5, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217254)

The problem with an ID card, as I see it, is that it gives the government lots of information about the citizenry, which it should not *need* to know. History shows us that there are always cycles of totalitarianism and 'freedom'. Having national ID cards mean that when a totalitarian authority comes to power, it can do a lot more damage.

Part of the reason the Nazis were so efficient at rounding up the Jews and other 'undesirables' was because they had good information about where they were living/employed/etc, and the Public Service was quite happy to provide that information to the SS (or whoever it was who coordinated the death camps - my knowledge of history is a bit shady). Had they had a national ID card, this process would have been even more efficient.

We should oppose an ID card, unless we're certain that such a government will never arise in our country. If you believe it never will, I think you're deluding yourself.

ps. This assumes that the ID cards are 100% secure - an impossible feat. If you consider ID card hacking, and identity theft, etc, then you uncover a heap of additional reasons why they're a Bad Thing.

Re:Information (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217323)

The problem with an ID card, as I see it, is that it gives the government lots of information about the citizenry, which it should not *need* to know.

What information? Specifically, what information that the government does not already have?

Re:Information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217449)

You are missing the point. The government is not one man with a filing cabinet. The government is made up of thousands of different individuals and departments working toward many different goals. Just because you gave your telephone number to the Dept. of Agriculture when you applied for a fishing license last November does not mean that the Dept. of Homeland Security can access it easily.

Some Americans (and yes, I realize the article is talking about Australia) consider this to be a good thing. I certainly do.

Herman Hollerith (1)

wintermute1974 (596184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217374)

The parent post is quite right. The Third Reich was as successful as it was at rounding up Jews throughout Europe because it was the largest and most advanced user of Herman Hollerith Tabulating Machines in the 1930s and 1940s.

First in their own country, then branching out to their annexed and occupied lands, the Germans took accurate censuses of all the people they ruled. Then, with the aid of tabulators and sorters, they printed out alphabetized lists of those people they wanted to deport to concentration camps.

The countries with the best data (such as Holland) had the most Jewish deaths per capital during the Second World War. Those countries with worse data (such as France) suffered far fewer deaths.

Remember, these were all mechanical machines, requiring a huge, toiling staff to run and maintain them. With the digital computers of today, keeping tabs on the entire population would be a trivial exercise in comparison.

Uhhh... (4, Informative)

Random Utinni (208410) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217259)

Didn't we discuss the Australian ID card issue this morning?


Your Rights Online: Australians to Get Compulsory Photo ID Smartcard [slashdot.org]
Posted by samzenpus on Thursday April 27, @05:05


Let me summarize:
- Watch out for Australian Gestapo.
        - That's a bad analogy.
        - No, it's a good analogy.
- Here's a link to a German film [archive.org] about police powers.
- We already have drivers' licenses; how are national ID's any different?
- Here's a humorous comment.
- It's not compulsory per se; you don't have to get the ID card. You just can't access government benefits without one... putting a *very* big carrot in front of Australians.

... did I miss anything?

yeah here's what you missed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217316)

GO EFF YOURSELF

In the US we already have a national ID card (1)

iriefrank (41550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217274)

It's called a driver's license (or state ID card), and you get it at the DMV in your state. Or the DPS if you're in Texas. :)

The feds have "federalized," as they do, and we indeed do have a de facto national ID.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_ID_Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:In the US we already have a national ID card (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217443)

It's called a driver's license ...

The requirements for getting a drivers's license means that it is hardly an identity card of any kind. The only thing it demonstrates is that someone using the name on the front of the card demonstrated the requisite knowledge and skills to operate a motor vehicle at one point in his life.

It certainly has nothing to do with citizenship or authorization for citizenship-based rights, and anyone who uses it as an ID is simply fooling themselves.

State? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217277)

Why do we really need a national id card? as a citizen, what will this id card do for me? and what the heck is wrong w/ my current state id?!

Getting my new green card. (1)

eMartin (210973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217280)

10 years ago, I had to get a new green card. I went to a police station to get my fingerprints taken with ink on a paper sheet, brought that to the INS office, had them take a polaroid, and put together my card on the spot.

Yesterday, I went to my biometrics appointment from my new green card.

They took down my name, SS#, address, and phone number, and had me sit down and wait. Next came the fingerprints, which were done with a scanner that told the operator how readable the prints were (pass/fail). When they all passed, I sat down in front of a digital camera for my photo.

Once they had all of my info, they said I'd get the new card in the mail.

Anyway, the point is 10 years ago they had a bunch of info on me probably on xeroxes and stuffed into some file cabinet somewhere. My green card was an ID card that basically got me back into the country when travelling.

Now, all of the above info is probably stored in some database, and can probably be called up instantly, and I feel that my green card was just an excuse to get that data. Not that I plan on doing anything where that may be used against me in some way, but it still bothers me for some reason.

Heck, I can't help but wonder if at some point in that process there was a secret DNA test.

Re:Getting my new green card. (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217414)

I admire the sense of humor of the nimtard who moderated this "+3, Informative"

I too was opposed (1)

M3gaBight (968603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217284)

Until about a year ago I was also very oposed to any sort of national ID card. Then I realised the government probably wouldn't have much more information that they already do through my passport. Why must everyone immidiatly assosiate any government innitative with terrorism? I now think it's a great idea. It's a much safer way for me to prove who I am to any body that needs to know, ie my university or my employer. It would probably lighten up my wallet to as I don't need a different ID card for everywhere I go, the one could probably be used by everyone to do what I need to do with it. That being said, in any countrys where this sort of card does exist, is it used as an all in one card? For instance do you still have to carry around a drivers licence or can that information stored on the card?

The Sound of Inevitability (1)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217309)

As far as the US goes, we have national ID as such but two badly repurposed hacks that function along similar lines. There are the state-issued drivers licenses and there is the nationally-issued social security ID number. Both are used extensively in identification, neither really work well. Drivers licenses aren't really meant to prove beyond doubt an identity, can be forged, and differ from state-to-state. Social security IDs are treated by some places as private and others as public and they don't have an actual photo identification card to tie a face to a name and a name to a number. We all resist national IDs here at Slashdot, but they're inevitable. In the information age it is imperative for the streamlining of governments that every citizen end up with their own database row somewhere. Now whether governments should be streamlined or not is an entirely different question. There is some protection to crippling beaurocracy.

Think about why YOU have a problem with it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217325)

Had a discussion at work about this over lunch yesterday, as I work in Sydney. Ironically out of a group of 10 people, the only two people who disagreed with it gave their individual reasons as (1) habitual tax fraud and (2) habitual welfare fraud. They were afraid of the system because they're taking part in illegal activites which they know they would have an increased chance of getting caught under a national ID system. Continuing this discussion today with other colleageus the same pattern continues to be evident.

Here in Australia, we have not seen much evidence that we have to be afraid of our government unless we're committing crimes. I've already seen two complainants going on about "freedoms". We dont' even have a nationally established "freedom of speech". In fact, as covered previously on Slashdot, we have rather strict dissention laws. However, nobody who isn't taking part in illegal activity has ever been quashed or locked up under these laws.

Personally, I'd love a national ID card. When so many places insist on a simple "Your mother's maiden name" as a form of identification outside of a non-photo/biometric ID, identity fraud is all too easy here. A simple google will elicit most information on myself such as "place of birth", "mothers maiden name" and in my case, even "first pet's name".

I challenge anyone to find proof of the government using their databases they already have established here in Australia, of ever pursuing someone who was not suspected of committing a crime in the first place.

Crimes (1)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217453)

Here in Australia, we have not seen much evidence that we have to be afraid of our government unless we're committing crimes.

Here in the good ol' US of A, it will soon be a big-time major crime to own software that can copy movies and music. What happens when it's a crime to use Linux? What happens when it's a crime to post something offensive on the fucking internet? What happens when that self-satisfied mother fucker who calls himself our President decides that calling our President a self-satisfied mother fucker is a crime? What happens when owning a copy of Brokeback Mountain is a crime?

We used to make fun of the USSR for requiring papers at all times. That was a common device in many of our spy movies-- "Your papers are not in order." That's exactly what a national ID card is: your papers, all bundled up in a single device. It's easy to abuse, and I believe it *will* be abused. And, ultimately, it is antithetical to liberty.

What happens when it is a crime to not have your national ID on you while walking down the street?

"Ver are your papers, Comrade?"

A National ID card is a good idea (1)

origamy (807009) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217334)

I'm in favor of a unified "ID Card" Format. I've never seen an ID from Dellaware, or Virginia, or many others of the 50 different ID formats that exist in the US. How am I supposed to know if those IDs are valid or not? I could easily print and laminate something from a different state and "pretend" it's an ID.

It's just an ID Card. The amount of Info in the "ID Card", that's another question.

In my country we had IDs per state and it was a mess. Some 20 years ago they unified the format and now it's better.

---

Wearing new glasses so I can C#

Ummm... (0, Redundant)

mrhandstand (233183) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217345)

NO.

MmmmKayyy!

the argument against national IDs (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217362)

assumes that all of your worst fears about how national IDs could be used isn't already happening. it is already happening

so i think an overlooked plus of national IDs is that the system could be made transparent (not that it will be, but that it could). that is, that the government could be forced to supply to you how and when your ID's info is being used and by whom. in the US they have a freedom of information act. with lots of little overlapping IDs: state drivers license, social security #, credit cards, etc., everything is shady and hard to pin down and enforce the foi. but with one centralized system, those who fight for privacy rights can attack that and stay focused on that one system and open it up for all

the problem now is, the national ID system just serves as a fearful symbol to privacy rights activists. ok, fine. but move beyond the FUD in your mind and see that there may be subtle benefits to a national ID system for the good cause. one stop shopping. a focus for your attack

and the subtle benefits of a national ID card for the cause of privacy rights is not least of which indicated by, as i already said, anything you are afraid they would do with a national ID they are already doing anyways

so there is nothing to lose, and maybe something to gain

As long as you're following the rules, you're fine (1)

Codename46 (889058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217372)

The way I see it is this: A national ID card has several uses. One of them is to see which state you're from and what your citizenship is. Since this ID card will probably databased, faking a national ID card will be extremely difficult (I would go as far to say that it is virtually impossible). It will involve hacking into the main database, assuming that you find it, gaining authority to create new entries, and covering your tracks. By that time, admins and whatnot will be on to you, since government officials at few locations can actually do this, and having your IP address come from a remote location is suspicious enough. The second purpose is to be a substitute for your driver's license (potentially), your social security card, and a laundry list of other cards that clutters up wherever you keep your stuff. The most important potential of ID cards is to identify criminals and illegal aliens. If you carded someone in Texas and it says he's from California, and on America's Most Wanted there is reported to be a fugitive from California that escaped and travelled east, you just busted his chops. All in all, I express my support for a national ID card, particularly one that has universal usage, and allows us to quickly recover from stolen cards (such as online de-activation). I see how some people fear that it may intrude our privacy, but as long as you're not doing anything illegal like the good citizen you're supposed to be, I don't see what you have to worry about.

One Ring to Counterfeit Them All (5, Insightful)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217377)

It will make life soooo much easier for counterfieting rings... Once you get the knack of how to make a good-looking counterfit, you can pretend that you're from anywhere in the country.

And you'll have a false sense of security, too -- most people aren't going to have the tools to reliably recognize most half-decent forgeries, so all you'll need is a half-decent fake, but -- because most people will know them as 'secure' IDs, they'll just be accepted at face value.

Most importantly, however: Being able to positively identify someone after they blow themselves up doesn't do much to stop terrorism.

Even after he was arrested, Mousaui is still trying to get himself killed.

I am not worthy with or without ID card (0, Offtopic)

BadassJesus (939844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217383)

Speaking about identification.... U.S. even demands our grandmother's maiden name to be on the papers for visiting U.S., then we pay about 10000k of our undervalued currency (about a month of hard work) for examination for entering the holy U.S. soil, and then you got turned down for no reason given by U.S. embassy. As a result you receive something like this: Mr. we exemined you request for U.S. visa and we found you not worthy entering continental U.S. :'( Yes, it is a bold offtopic, yo.

Centralized vs Pocketized ID (4, Insightful)

laxisusous (693625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217384)

Most countries place the ID information on the card. This is foolish as any physical or digital representation can be duplicated with relative ease. This makes the good guys work for naught to stop the bad guys who don't have to worry (as they have proper ID). I propose that all the ID information should be server side (picts etc - presented to a terminal). The only thing on the card should be a Name, Number and Bar Code. The information shown could be location specific - to enhance privacy rights (the reader only sees information germain to their function).

Imagine how many dead-beat dads would be forced to pay. Imagine how many jobs would would newly occupied by legal workers. Imagine how much nicer getting on a commercial airplane would be. Imagine if the person reading the card knew that the ID information they were seeing was coming from an encrypted database in some locked room, as opposed to being produced in the back of a van somewhere.

you have no way (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217467)

of knowing if it was intercepted by a van in the parking lot.

The way it to strngly encrypt the info on the card, and make a finger print part of the key.

Now everyone controls their information.

they work (0, Flamebait)

cahiha (873942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217385)

Other nations have much less of a problem with illegal workers or identity theft.

Americans want a National ID card (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15217395)

Americans support National ID card : http://www.time.com/time/columnist/stengel/article /0,9565,180144,00.html [time.com]

It's a good idea.

1) We won't have to build a Maginot Line on the Mexican border.
2) We can enforce our immigration laws better and more cheaply.
3) We can cut down on fraud.
4) We can catch criminals more easily.

I know that some are scared of it but the benefits outweigh the minor costs.

Some might complain about privacy ... but guess what, check your junk mail. Check out your RICO score. Check out your entry in the voter database. Law abiding tax paying Americans are already compromised and nothing can undo it.
Only criminals fear the National ID card.

1984 ,hitler and dont get in the way (1)

observer7 (753034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217404)

Some may argue that the Police State is not simply in the process of arriving, but that it has already been with us for some time. Certainly the events of September 11, 2001 have done nothing to retard the process. There are many small developments, each one seemingly innocuous in itself, which are helping the police forces of the world to increase their grip on the activities of people.The introduction of identity cards has been the subject of much recent discussion but so far many of the various governments involved appear to have shelved the matter. Temporarily shelved at least, or until the various propaganda machines have had time to do their work. The introduction of driver's licences bearing the owner's photograph has provided the state with a perfectly acceptable substitute for a temporary form of ID card. Nobody is making much fuss about a photo on their driving permit, having long become accustomed to requiring a licence to drive. The original purpose of the driving licence was to ensure that the applicant had the mental and physical competence to drive a vehicle. All states rapidly turning this into a method of controlling a part of their population, and soon we began to hear the government refrain that "driving is a privilege and not a right." A refrain which has been unquestioningly accepted by the majority of the population. This underlying theory is present in states as varied in their political philosophies as the USA, Canada, England and China. The use of face-recognition technology though has shed new light on one police practice, a practice which most likely has surprised many people. With digital photographs in common use, it is very easy for the forces of law and order to scan, on a routine basis, the databank containing the province or state's drivers' license photographs to find look-alikes for criminal photo lineups. Whatever your description, if it matches the facial characteristics - or even a composite - of a suspect, your photograph could be among those laid out alongside the photo of an alleged armed robber or murderer for a witness or victim to identify. Ever wonder how many police line-ups you may have been in? I'll bet you thought too that the new provincial health cards and driver's licences, with their nice coloured photographs, were in colour because they look less like the old grainy black and white ones that made us all look like shifty criminals. All this occurred to me recently, when I had my photo taken for my latest driver's licence. Being a wearer of orthochromic lenses, which turn dark when exposed to light of any kind, I was asked to remove them before my photo was taken. When I asked why, I was informed that the police don't like photos of individuals with dark glasses! So now my health card and driver's licence each bear a photograph of an old white haired individual blinking at the camera. Of course, in real life I do not look like that because I wear my glasses continuously. But this isn't a problem for the police because their photo recognition equipment is much more interested in the shape of my face than its adornments. The polls taken following the WTC incident showed that there is considerable public support for many of these so-called anti-terrorism measures, support accompanied by cries from many for even harsher measures to restrain liberty; including, unthinkingly, their own. Even in the USA, well known people, notably Oracle's Larry Ellison and Harvard's Allen Dershowitz, have proposed a US national ID card. Ellison having even offered to manufacture them himself, presumably as an act of charity and patriotism. Closer to home, Quebec's Minister of Health, under the cover of wanting to reduce fraud, has been again touting a health card with a chip, to counter so-called violations of his system. Since they introduced photographs on the Health card a few years ago, some reduction of fraud has taken place, but it has not been eliminated as reports in the French press showed recently. The Police Federation in the UK says that it would welcome the introduction of a voluntary ID card. They claim that, after the events of September 11th last, personal identification is now a priority and securing individual identity is the first matter to address. They say that while the police service is ever vigilant and prepared for terrorist attacks, they must also cope with the conflict between communities who live in an atmosphere of fear, hostility and confusion. Reading their position on this I found that while they say "The introduction of an identity card would have other benefits too. It would reduce the number of people taken to police stations just to confirm identity, help in the prevention of fraud - especially (welfare) benefits fraud - and would be valuable as proof of age for pubs, clubs, cinemas and other age-restricted access," they also say that "The integrity and credibility of identification cards must be carefully checked to ensure accuracy and in the first place it needs to be voluntary. If this does not work we will have to make it a mandatory requirement for everyone." There you have it, first introduce a voluntary system which inevitably will not work to their satisfaction then they will just have to make it compulsory; after all it is for our protection. When the Canadian Federal government first issued everyone with a SIN (Social Insurance Number) it claimed that it was only to be used to allow everyone obtain social or health services and nothing else. Yet this soon changed, first the SIN was required when conducting a banking or brokerage transaction, then it had to appear on your tax return because it had become an identifier of an individual, and the government could now begin to trace some of that individual's activities. I have even been asked for my SIN when renting an apartment. This is not covered by the list of uses to which the SIN may be put, so knowing that I would not obtain the apartment if I refused, I provided the owner with a wholly fictitious number and he seemed quite pleased. The authorities everywhere know that the use of an ID card to control terrorists is most unlikely to work unless combined with biometric data and perhaps DNA, and that the software used is based on something akin to the kind of complex software used by credit card companies. When a storekeeper requests authorization to approve your purchase of something, the credit card company's software does several things. First it checks to see if there is such a card in the system; and if so, that it has not been reported as stolen. It then checks to see if there is enough credit to allow the purchase. Then it checks your transaction history, the kind of transactions recently you have made and checks to see if this new purchase fits that profile. Next it checks its inventory of fraudulent card usage and produces a "score" which is used to determine whether or not to authorize the purchase. Last year, when buying some rather expensive electronic equipment on a credit card, I triggered this system and I was asked, right there in the store, to "speak" with some anonymous individual who asked me all sorts of questions in an effort to see if I was who I claimed to be. The other name for this is "profiling," a term which is commonly understood to be a system used by police to stop and question citizens who are dressed differently or who are somehow different to the majority. Now, imagine that our formerly benevolent government wishes to introduce an ID card. It will not be long before it is required to be used for everything you do. Book a flight - produce ID; Pick up your airline tickets - produce ID; Rent a car - produce ID; Buy or rent a house - produce ID; Cash a cheque - produce ID; Buy a TV set - produce ID, need I say more? These transactions will then be scanned by a supercomputer (also accessible to another country's agencies) and a profile of your actions past and present developed. For example, the record of your child support payments; if you are behind in them you could find your purchase of that new TV set refused. If you haven't paid that parking fine you got last year in Yellowknife, your purchases could be stopped. Buying that expensive gift for your girl friend may result in questions being asked about the reason for the expenditure when she doesn't have the same name as your wife or daughter. After all, we must protect the morals of our subjects. Your spending patterns will be compared to your income tax returns and your bank balance to see if you are a tax cheat (one of Mr. Landry's favourite people) or living above your apparent means. Imagine that a mistake is made - and this happens in the credit system quite often - your "credit" is refused. Your profile becomes mixed up with another person of the same or similar name and suddenly hard-faced men with guns are waking you up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. As I ponder this new and ever intrusive world in which we live I really wonder if those who support the introduction of ID cards have ever fully considered what is really happening. In a recent symposium, Robert Higgs, senior fellow at The Independent Institute said "Of course, once people have been subjected to such thoroughgoing government surveillance, all relations between the government and the public are transformed. Whether the rulers be revolutionary despots or democratically elected officials, every citizen knows that 'they' know all about him and his affairs, and hence no one dares to step out of line. In such a situation, the socio-political system will gravitate ineluctably toward totalitarianism." Hong Kong is the latest state to announce that it will issue so-called "smart cards" embedded with a chip which has their name, photo, date of birth and a digital thumb-print of each thumb to all Hong Kong residents, aged 11 and up, all at a cost of $ 400 million. Since 1949, because there was a massive influx of refugees at that time, the residents of Hong Kong have had compulsory ID cards ever since, simply to sort out the newcomers from the residents. Hong Kong's government backed down on proposals to have the new ID cards carry health and bank records, but civil libertarians still have reservations. Said one "No matter how secure a system is, there is always a risk that it might get hacked into." Plastic smart cards, about the size of credit cards, contain embedded microchips loaded with data. Around the world, they are often used in public telephones and for electronic cash payments. In the Hong Kong ID card, personal details such as name, date of birth, gender, residential status and conditions of stay for non-citizens are stored in the microchip and protected by encryption. Still, many in Hong Kong were disconcerted when the government floated the idea of a high-tech card loaded with so much personal information. The local smart card hackers are already displaying their talents and many fear that the IDs will present a tempting target. In Hong Kong, as elsewhere, black marketers sell pirated cable television decoders that use bootlegged smart cards to decrypt pay TV channels. To allay public fears, the Hong Kong government opted against requiring the cards to serve as driving licences and library cards. With those and other applications optional, the government hoped its scaled-back proposal can be approved by lawmakers and launched next year. Although the digital fingerprint characteristics will be stored on the card they will not be in a government database so even if a hacker penetrated the system, there would be no fingerprint data to steal. If the card is stolen, officials say the data on the chip cannot be easily retrieved. Last month, an initial $ 21 million contract was awarded to a consortium led by the local telecom company, Pacific Century CyberWorks, and included Mondex International of Britain. Other governments are launching smart ID cards too but have opted for less strict programs. In September, Malaysia introduced an optional smart card called MyKad which functions as a driver's license and contains passport information and some day it may contain banking data and biometric data. Next year Japan plans to introduce an optional smart ID containing the cardholder's signature, photo and address. Not to be outdone, Thailand recently approved a proposal for mandatory cards containing social security and health records. In Europe, Finland has implemented an optional smart ID card. In the USA, states are rushing to enact their own versions of the US Patriot Act. A Vermont Law School professor, Michael Mello, who recently testified on an anti-terrorism bill in Montpelier said, "State legislatures are in the process of re-calibrating the appropriate balance between liberty and security in the post-September 11th world." What is occurring, Mello said, involves a localized repackaging of the federal anti-terrorism laws, passed by Congress in October as the USA-Patriot Act. Like the Patriot Act, proposals in Maryland and a new law in Virginia permit law enforcement officials to get court orders to retrieve records of e-mails and other electronic communications, not just telephone records. Statistics compiled by local prosecutors in Maryland showed that 91 percent of the conversations, that were recorded by police during investigations in the year 2000, turned out to involve people with no connection to the crimes being investigated. Despite this, Maryland's proposal would expand the ability of police to tap phones by allowing investigators to plant a listening device indefinitely, not just 30 days. For the first time, it would, permit use of a "roving wire tap" to record a suspect's conversations on multiple phones with a single warrant. It would allow a judge to seal search warrants for up to a year. "Our goal was to conform our law to what the feds are already doing," said Del. Ann Marie Doory (D-Baltimore), who sponsored the Maryland Security Protection Act of 2002. Many critics object to the provision that makes terrorism a new crime. Just as hate-crime laws attached stiffer penalties to existing infractions, the terrorism charge could be attached to any of a long list of existing crimes, as long as the suspect committed them with the intention of instilling widespread fear or coercing action from the government. The problem with that, Del. Sharon Grosfeld (D-Montgomery) said, is that "you're talking about very harsh penalties that could be added based on someone's political beliefs, not because of their actions. That strikes me as very dangerous." Last November, there was even a case of a man going to retrieve his rental car, which he had reserved over the Internet, being asked not only for his driver's licence but also his thumb-print. The man, a New Mexico-based magazine editor, said he found out about the requirement when he walked up to the Dollar Rent A Car counter and noticed a display featuring a drawing of a big thumb making the A-OK sign with the words "Thumbs Up!" printed on it. The display explained that thumb-prints were being collected from customers as part of an effort to reduce fraud and theft. When the man refused to submit to this indignity, the car company's employee refused to rent him a car. I would be very surprised if any of these concerns really matter to those who govern the new Police State. Such concerns never seemed to affect Adolf Hitler or Joe Stalin, as far as I can tell.

optional id cards are the way to go (1)

sPaKr (116314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217441)

Currently we have a national identity system, but instead of having laws protect the people in it, rather we have companies which can do what they like to our identities. Try renting a apartment, turning on the gas/cable/power, getting a phone (cell or land), getting Internet service, with out a credit report. While some of these are still possible with great effort almost all will be punished for not having a good credit report. How do you prove that you are acting on behalf of a credit report, with a random assortment of facts. What does knowing my age, mothers maiden name and social security number some how prove that I am who I say I am. No it doesn't It just proves that I know my victim ^H^H^H^H^H^H myself well enough to fool you.

The solution is a strong identity system. The system should be based on something similar if not directly on the pkcs 11 tokens. People should be allowed to opt into the be card holders but once you are a card holder the only valid form of identification should be the card/token that you are carrying. Further the system should be privatized with allowing several card vendors to compete such that people willing to pay /put up with extra security features can have them if they like. In the simplest form the card may look like credit card with a mag stripe. Other vendors may offer people cards that are biometricly locked. With being an opt in system it would be legal for things like banks and other industries to charge people lower or fewer fees for participating in the system. Since these users will offer lower rates to insure then its only fair to pass those costs along to the end users. Since it has been proven time and time again that people will give up their passwords and identity for things such as Tshirts and chocolate bars we can be sure that unwashed masses will fall into line when they get a few extra bucks a month for taking part. Then in time, just as with the credit reports it will be so costly not to be apart of the system that everyone will just do it. Further once a real identity system is in place forcing people to sign emails to spam prevention will be a real possibility.

For all of the comments that say that identity cards are a 'bad idea(tm)' no one has been able to say what this will enable the government to do that they can't do today.

Not in the United States (4, Insightful)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217454)

National ID cards are a bad idea in the United States, for a few reasons. First, this country is supposed to be a confederation of states (hence, we are the United States of America; not "America" like many people say); the federal government should be strictly bound to the Constitution. (This is different from most European nations; they are nation-states, not confederacies. Federalism doesn't exist in those nations, whereas federalism is what makes the United States different). National ID cards trample over the states' sovereignity. Ideally, I should report to the state of California, not to the feds. According to the Constitution, what function does the National ID card would have? I'm pretty sure the Consitution doesn't allow for this. However, the Constitution and the concept of federalism has been spat at and vilified since 1933 (with how the Supreme Court has acted since FDR, you would have sworn that the 10th Amendment was repealed along with the 18th in 1933), so they'll probably use the "commerce clause" or some other excuse to implement it.

National ID cards aren't the cause of totalitarian regimes, but if the United States were taken over by totalitarians, access to data would be much easier with a centralized database somewhere in Washington, DC vs. individual state records. Besides, terrorists, phishers, con artists, and other crooks would have an easier time stealing somebody's "American Freedom ID Card" and have access to all of their personal information, than if they just stole a California ID card, for example.

My objection to a national ID card in the United States is based on four reasons; it defies federalism, may give the federal government too much information (which may be very bad if our government gets worse), could make identity theft much easier and centralized, and civil liberties issues (why should I have to carry my papers around to walk down the street?). The United States needs to return to its Constitutional roots based on federalism, instead of implementing some big government program to fix all of the problems that it allegedly has.

hungary (2, Insightful)

boldi (100534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217460)

We have a mandatory id card in Hungary, and our biggest concern is that policemen are always have the right to ask You to show Your id.
Why?
Nobody knows.
In Hungary, sometimes a policemen comes into the bar and checks the id card of everybody, without any reason.
In contrast to the U.S., nobody checks age limit at the doors, but policemen can ask you every time to show your pass.
Back in the 50's if somebody did not have the id card nearby (e.g. riding a bike), they arrested You for a night. Nowtimes other parties might
identify You for the policemen and the driving licence is also o.k. for that.
What an advance - You can say. But: If I go into my bank, they still ask for my id card at every transaction and they don't trust the driving licence. Therfore everybody takes all his neccessary cards in their pockets, because it is a daily, regular use for EACH of them:

-ID card
-card officially stating your home address (this data is no more on the ID card)
-Tax card
-Driving licence (card)
-Health card (for any health issue)
-EU health card (If you leave the border...)

-Credit/Debit cards
-Paper based traffic card
-Card for the ownership/traffic eligibility of your car
-Parking card (in the city)

-Dicount cards and entry cards for specific stores (e.g. Shell Smart card, Supershop discount card, etc.)
-Parking card or remote for your office

-Cards stating the id number for your company at a store to get company receipt in a "fast" way - minutes with a card... You should get paper receipt for the name of the company every time...

And almast every place in my country is in 50 mile reach of some country border, if You leave the country and it's not in the Eu., You'll have to use passport, international driving licence,...

Yes I know You have a lots of cards too, but mainly for the same reason, as membership and discount cards, or bank cards, but such a mess of cards is simply frustrating. What do You do if somebody steals your cards? It takes monthes to get new ones. Besides You will be the owner of some fake companies etc.

My baby is only some weeks old. He already has
-official paper about his birth
-health card
-eu health card
-card stating his home address
-passport
-tax card

Good, eh? It took days to get those, with queues of 50.

How do You get all these cards? All at a different office, and they have introduced internet based check-in (date reservation) lately in the last year... For some cards you bring your photo. For some other they make it personally. For some cards, you have to go to the post office to pay for it, for some you don't have to.

So - the mandatory id card is just a piece of dust, nobody cares.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck..... (1)

ezratrumpet (937206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217464)

....then it's a duck, no matter how many times you call it a "flat-billed water fowl." When every business that needs to verify my identity asks me for my driver's license, and when the federal government expects that I have a driver's license when I conduct business with their agencies, then the state-issued driver's license is the national identification card. No matter how much we like it or dislike it.

From a local point of view (1)

Yirimyah (884895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15217482)

I'm Australian, and this comes as no surprise. Since 9/11, despite the fact that we have had NO terrorism within our borders and we're a strategically and numerically insignificant country (20 million residents) our government has taken the latest excuse and really run with it, creating an entirely legally different Australia. Our government (who we've had for the last 10 years because we don't seem to care when they're caught lying to us) has, apart from the usual ridiculously long held-without-charge times, made it illegal to speak about ASIO (Australian Security/Intelligence Organization) arrests, changed sentences for people already in jail without judicial intervention, reintroduced sedition laws et al. Now this. Frankly, I'm just waiting till I've got enough money to move overseas. Last time I checked, "left" still wasn't an obscenity in some Northern European countries.
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