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Are National ID Cards a Good Idea? 746

Posted by Cliff
from the we-already-have-driver's-licenses-and-passports dept.
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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Are National ID Cards a Good Idea?

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  • Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:52PM (#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.
  • INFOWARS.COM (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:54PM (#15217154)
    INFOWARS.COM

    enough said.
  • by susano_otter (123650) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:54PM (#15217156) Homepage
    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!
  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ejdmoo (193585) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:54PM (#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.
  • No? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LordoftheLemmings (773163) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:58PM (#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.
  • PGP GPG et alia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tiger4 (840741) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:00PM (#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.
  • A terrible idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frogbert (589961) <frogbert.gmail@com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:01PM (#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.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by susano_otter (123650) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:01PM (#15217226) Homepage
    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:Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SpooForBrains (771537) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:02PM (#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:Absolutely not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:03PM (#15217242) Homepage
    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.
  • by pla (258480) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:03PM (#15217246) Journal
    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?
  • Information (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wall0159 (881759) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:04PM (#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:Absolutely not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:08PM (#15217285) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ottothecow (600101) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `wocehtotto'> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:14PM (#15217343) Homepage
    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?
  • 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.

  • by laxisusous (693625) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:20PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:21PM (#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.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrMrLordX (559371) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:21PM (#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:No? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:25PM (#15217432) Homepage Journal
    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
  • Shneier is wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cahiha (873942) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:26PM (#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.
  • by linguae (763922) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:28PM (#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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boldi (100534) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:29PM (#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.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:36PM (#15217516)
    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".

    A State Driver's License is needed to prove you can drive legally.

    A ID card is not required otherwise.

    By itself an ID card isn't an invasion of privacy if used voluntarily or for non-tracking purposes.

    However, if id's are used to track your movements and habits. Then yes... It can turn ugly. Imagine you were tracked every time you went to a porn shop or a Church that was sponsored by the government?

    Heck... Being in a questionable neighborhood maybe cause you to get marked as a political suspect. Yes my examples are extreme and would require RDIF tracking methods, but there is not reason for anyone that isn't driving to have identification on them.

    I don't even think it should be needed to get on a plane.

    Why? Because real Terrorists can get fake IDs regardless.

    I do recall the 9/11 highjackers all had IDs that passed basic inspection.

    If someone does do a crime... Fine... Tag them with a chip and track them down as long as their probation is in effect, but to track innnocent civilians en masse reeks of WWII Germany's "Where are zee papers!"
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by s16le (963839) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:39PM (#15217530)
    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.

  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:39PM (#15217532)
    Do you have to present that license when asked any time other than when you are actually in a vehicle?

    Actually yes. I lived in California for 25 years. If the police asked for ID you were required to provide either a drivers license or an ID card, even if you were just walking down the street. As I remember it doesn't qualify as a search so they could do it at any time for most any reason. It's not generally enforced except when they are talking to a witness or suspect.

    The scary thing about ID cards is most of the national card proposals I've heard involve some form of tracking. People would be shocked to find how much personal info is stored on a Califronia drivers license. You don't have to be George Orwell to get nervous when the government is pushing hard for tracking technology in every car and everyone having ID cards. How much harm can it do? Debateable. What it boils down to is they have to right to the information and it's none of their damn business where I've been and what I've bought unless I commit a crime. They can't preemptively track everyone "incase" they commit a crime. We have a little thing called innocent until proven guilty.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ejdmoo (193585) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:40PM (#15217540)
    Wouldn't you rather have one well thought out, secure identification system, than many disparate insecure systems like today? Unfortunately, we can't go back to the 19th century on this one.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lelitsch (31136) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:45PM (#15217578)
    Assuming you live in the US, you obviously don't have a social security number, drivers license, birth certificate, or passport, and you have never been sick, or attended school; and have yet to pay taxes? Newsflash: the government holds a lot of data about you. Unfortunately, the data is currently linked by an universal and extremly weak key, namely a 9 digit number that you probably have passed out many times over to people who are as trustworthy as used car salesmen.

    Come to think of it, more than a few probably were used car salesmen...
  • Re:The Truth QWZX (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Penguinoflight (517245) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:49PM (#15217605) Homepage Journal
    If you are so against privacy then why are you posting anonymously?
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:50PM (#15217619)

    Following this logic, I suppose slashdotters should also use this against gun control laws if they use your argument against national IDs. But I doubt it.

    Gun control/registration is frequently followed by confiscation, so people are right to be nervous. An unarmed citizenry is at the mercy of criminals, elected and self-appointed.

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:55PM (#15217651)
    What everyone seems to be forgetting is that everyone involved HAD VALID ID! All this will do is add another hoop for someone to jump through. A determined person/group will be able to attain valid ID's that are needed, be they foreign passports, visa's, green cards, US citizen ID's, Yo-JimBo Squeegy Card, etc... It won't matter. The only thing ID's will do is more easily allow people to gather data about you and or steal your identity.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:59PM (#15217671)
    Our drivers licenses are about the only photo ID that any of our people have. Some have passports, but not many people carry them day to day.

    If you're cashing a check or using a credit card, you are sometimes asked for photo ID. So we show our drivers license.

    But our employment laws specifically state what types of ID are needed for employment and a drivers license is just one option.

    And I'm okay with that.
  • no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aurisor (932566) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:05PM (#15217714) Homepage
    The abuses that could stem from a centralized system of identification are absolutely mind-boggling. Before we launch into that however, we ought to take a second and consider exactly what it is that we're in jeopardy of losing, don't you think?

    The fourth amendment says:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    What this effectively creates is a system of enforcement which makes the law enforcement play at a disadvantage. This was created because our founding fathers did not trust government not to oppress its citizens.

    One of the biggest points that most people don't get about the constitution and the bill of rights is that it provides allowances for people to get away with crimes. This is a necessary step because 100% enforcement of all laws is both the natural goal of any government AND the very definition of the most orwellian of hells. The founding fathers decided to draw the line somewhere to even the playing field between citizen and government. If you break copyright laws within your home or among your friends, smoke some pot in your basement, or anonymously leak some piece of government information to the press, THE LEVEL OF INVASION REQUIRED TO CONVICT THOSE CRIMES OUTWEIGHS THE EVIL OF THOSE CRIMES GOING UNPUNISHED.

    Furthermore, this relies on eyewhitnesses, regular people, to report crimes and turn people in. This is precisely in step with the principle of the jury trial: all power is mitigated by the complicity of the populace and the human error and decentralization of the enforcement. Yes, that means that there are situations where murderers and rapists and all manner of other evil people are going to get away with things. This is the price we must pay to maintain a sane government.

    With that said, here's why the mandatory ID is a horrendous idea: by creating these IDs we are taking the first step into the machine. We will all be inventoried in an absolutely literal way. Once this happens at a national level, it becomes possible for diverse sources of information to be correlated with unprecedented precision. As soon as this becomes possible, the government will necessarily, naturally, perhaps gradually begin to use it to fight drugs, or crime, or terrorism, or whatever evil they're spouting about at the moment.

    Just consider it. A single database with an ID number for every citizen in the united states. At that point it is so, SO very easy to start associating things:

    * Library Records
    * Internet History
    * Criminal Records
    * Taxes
    * Credit Card Purchases
    * Driving Records

    But that's not even the beginning. What happens when we start using this thing on a day-to-day convenience level?

    * Swipe it at the metro
    * Swipe it at the grocery store
    * Wave it through the toll booths

    Or, hell, just put a RFID chip into the thing. Imagine: you'd be able to just walk into a library, pick up some books, and walk out...the books are automatically checked out via RFID. You could fill your cart up at the supermarket and just walk out the door. Instantly, the balance is deducted from your credit card. The police could fire up a scanner at a football game and get a list of every person who's been to the middle east in the last year. They could just deduct all of your taxes as you go; what would there be to report come April?

    On some level, we're all guilty of something. Some of us like weird porn. Some of us lie about things. Some of us hate people and wish them dead. Some of us hate people because of the color of their skin. Some of us are friends with drug dealers and terrorists. Some of us are Communists. Some of us break encryption.

    If you add up enough information about anyone, they're guilty of w
  • Re:PGP GPG et alia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by d474 (695126) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:24PM (#15217805)
    ID theft is a banking issue.

    The fact that Banks just give away credit cards with scant pieces of information has NOTHING TO DO WITH governmental issues. Credit should be much more difficult to obtain. In order to get it there should be background checks, lie detector tests, multiple interviews with bankers, multiple confirmed references, etc....but alas, that costs the banks money.

    So their answer is make the taxpayers pay for it - tell citizens that it's THEIR problem banks don't want to protect their credit. Tell them they need a National ID!!

    That way, the banks don't have to pay for it, PLUS the government gets to treat ALL citizens like criminals by gathering their biometric data! Individualized Demographic information that the Corporations would just LOVE to give to their marketing departments, not to mention police databases.

    That's called a Police State.

    If you think Identity Theft is going away with "National ID" card, you've been fooled by the slick salesmen (politicians) that are trying to please their bosses (corporations).
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:26PM (#15217813)

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

    I look at that example and see the bad thing being rounding up and killing people, not the method used to locate them.

    Nazis undoubtedly used cars to do this. Clearly cars are the tool of oppressive governments. Nazis used guns to do this. Clearly guns are the tool of oppressive governments. Nazis used ID cards to do this. Clearly ID cards are the tool of oppressive regimes.

    I really don't understand the paranoia some people have with ID cards. They are a tool just like any other. The particular purpose of this tool is authentication. As other people have pointed out, this purpose is already widely implemented - sans the scary "ID card" moniker - with nary a complaint. So why do the two magical words "ID card" get such knee-jerk reactions? Is there a particular Hollywood film that used this phrase? The exact same functionality, but called "state ID" instead of "ID card" doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow. So what's the deal here, where's the fear coming from?

  • by Matthias Wiesmann (221411) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:26PM (#15217815) Homepage Journal
    I don't think that federalism is a relevant difference. Switzerland is also a federal state with national ID cards. Cards are national but issued by the cantons (equivalent of US states). Those ID cards are used roughly the same way driver licenses are used in the US, with the added advantage that the notion of identity is decoupled from the right to drive or your age. Also an ID card is sufficient to go to neighbouring countries.

    I suspect the main difference between Switzerland and the US, beside size, obviously, is social. Switzerland is a settled country, where the government has a pretty good idea where its citizens are: people have ID cards, and are supposed to register in the place they live - most men also have to register with the army. All in all, people don't seem to worried about the government, but then again, Switzerland has a weak executive and direct democracy.

    The funny thing for me is, the prospect of national ID cards raises such a ruckus, but nobody talks a lot about the requirements the US imposes on foreigner's passports. First the US required machine readable passports, and now it wants biometric information. Basically, the Swiss government will collect biometric information about me not because it wants to, but because of the US.

  • Re:Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart@gm a i l . com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:28PM (#15217821)
    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.

    Both of which are very arguable, in particular the voter fraud issue. (And there are plenty of people who've argued very cogent arguments that identification to fly is more than worthless, such as Bruce Schneier. The successful voter fraud that has occurred in the US has been perpetrated by poll workers and other elections officials--not random people coming off the street to vote. It's simply not an effective way of changing an election result. There are far easier, more effective legal ways of influencing elections than even voting once.)

    So I'd disagree that ID is necessary. There are plenty of people who get their driver's license and that document sits in their wallet for four years until it needs to be renewed again. (I personally vote absentee and fly so irregularly that it's not a problem if I just fly as a selectee without ID. I'd be happy not to have one.)

    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.

    ID cards are notoriously expensive...so while it might be "free" on the surface it's still something being paid for through taxes. The British ID plan will cost probably 10-15 billion pounds (and is not free to the citizen.) A US National ID card would easily cost $30-50 billion (and hence, there is a lot of lobbying going on for it, since it would be a huge industrial contract.)

    You know, there are countries in Latin America who have ID card contracts that cost $80/citizen...and that's in a country where per capita GDP is $2400/year. I am truly at a loss to explain why such poor countries needs such sophisticated ID card systems.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hunterx11 (778171) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <11xretnuh>> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:39PM (#15217884) Homepage Journal
    Fortunately, fewer than in Australia.
  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:49PM (#15217922) Journal
    First, a warrant is not necessarily protection from government intrusion.

    For example, it's a nice evening. You and an attractive young lady decide to visit a secluded area for some amorous pursuits. Meanwhile, about a mile away and unbeknownst to you, someone is murdered.

    So the cops pull up the records--which cars were in the area around the time of the crime. My, your car was in the area. Perhaps the police should have a little talk with you because, after all, you were in the area--maybe you saw something. So the police show up at your door.

    Now we can move to various entertaining scenarios:
    • The woman you were with was not your wife/girlfriend. The officer questioning you is your wife/girlfriend's older brother. You want to tell him you were cheating on his little sister?
    • The woman you were with was a prostitute. Well, you didn't murder anybody, but here's a ticket for hiring a prostitute.
    • The woman you were with will need to corroborate your story. She works for the mayor, so the police will be asking her at work...

    And so on and so on.

    Add to that the recent issues of not needing a warrant for such things as terrorist investigations. Again, the police have been known to stretch the laws which constrain them in order to get information. How quickly would your information become part of a terrorist investigation where it does not need a warrant?

    Finally, if the information exists, it can be accessed. Tell me that if I slip a quick $1000 to somebody on the police force, they won't look up somebody's history and give me the information. They're not stealing anything, after all--they're just copying information. The worst they'll get is a slap on the wrist.
  • Depends. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:53PM (#15217934)
    If the ID is neutral and uniquely identifies the person carring it and each living person has a right to one without any discriminatory markings on them ... so if the card is _really_ only a peronal ID, then it could be a good idea. Identity theft and other things would become much more difficult.

    The bureau handing out the cards should be directly controlled by the people and be law required to be neutral. The cards could have SSN and other info on them and be used as a transport medium for own usage like bank account access or medical data if one whishes.

    If all that would be than they'd be an advantage and would make life easyer imho. We've got compulsory IDs here in germany. The most bugging thing about them is that they are to big to fit into a wallet without folding and that they can't be used for usefull stuff.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:09PM (#15218022)
    I grew up in such a country.

    It was the Republic of South Africa. Not the new one; the old one, with the old constitution. Even longer ago too; the tricameral system replaced a prior one.

    I still have my ID book, in case I ever, possibly owing to my current country of residence going to hell in a handbasket, have to go back there.

    It contains my picture, name, driving license, voting record, firearms licenses and more.

    It may come as a matter of interest to you that the abuses to which the administration of the population of South Africa were put are a disgusting part of documented history. Read about them, I'll wait.

    You're back? Good. Now stop being an idiot, use your head, and learn from (recent, thoroughly documented) history. Governments are extremely apt to use available data on citizens in prescriptive ways. There are no permissive ways to use the availability of the data which are not similarly available without them. That is the nature of permission versus restriction.

    Unless you can come up with some restriction so necessary, so compelling, so unarguably crucial that the plight of your pet group will be so terribly dire that to do without this restriction is unthinkably catastrophic, you are selling out for thirty silver coins. Shiny, but no substitute for what you're losing.

    No, the deaths of a few thousand people aren't that crucial, even if you could somehow prove that your ID system would have prevented the twin tower attacks. Really. I cannot begin to tell you how heartsick I am at seeing the entire western world gradually making the same mistakes South Africa made.

    Some fool with an agenda and an ideology is bound to say: "Oh, but we aren't doing racial segregation!" Yes, that is (mostly) true. (If you think that affirmative action isn't discriminatory, you need to start analysing its nature. Again, I will wait for you.) It is also not necessary to have the same trappings on your mistakes for them to be the same mistakes.

    Don't trust the government. Governments serve people best when they are shackled and exposed. Instead, just about every historically enduring government has a track record of increasing centralisation of power, generally to the detriment of the level of freedom. Revolutions punctuate this pattern throughout history. Again, people don't learn from the experiences of others, so they're bound and determined to learn from their own.

    (It's a curious observation that the USA has more racial categories than the old RSA did.)
  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:21PM (#15218075)
    might erupt because of some random, improbable chain of events. I wouldn't care if I get questioned one per lifetime because the computer said I happened to be near the scene of a crime. Any inconvience that this would cause would be greatly offset by the decrease in the crime rate. So yes, maybe once in a hundred lifetimes, I would be questioned about an innocent-but-embarrassing situation as you described, and once in million lifetimes questioned by her little brother. That is a risk I am willing to take.

    Since I am unlikely to call Pakistan and say "nuclear" in Farsi anytime soon, I am not too worried about terrorist investigations. As for corrupt cops, the system is likely to protect me from them as let them accuse me of a crime of which I am innocent, as the system is likely to give good alibis.

    Thanks for pointing out another great benefit of the National Car Tracking system (the great reduction in crime rate!). This alone probably offsets the bizarre, low-probability problems you bring up.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nwbvt (768631) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:22PM (#15218080)
    "The Nazis used this sort of data to round up Jews, Homersexuals and Race Traitors and send them to the ovens."

    Yeah, they also used trains to transport them. Does that mean we should abolish Amtrak?

    "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."

    There is one thing they could do. ID cards would generally be associated with some sort of unique ID number which would give us a way to identify people without relying on SSNs, which have been ruined by confusions over whether or not they should be treated as confidential material (and when someone assumes they should be when they are not and starts using them to verify someone's identity, we have an easy path to identity theft). I know people do not like the idea of the big bad government treating them as a number, but the fact is in this increasingly digitalized world, this is something we desperately need.

  • Re:Information (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:29PM (#15218118)

    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.

    By that logic, anything that makes the government more efficient is a tool of oppression.

    I could make exactly the same case for banning government from using computers. Surely rounding up and killing people would be far less efficient if they didn't have these tools of Satan available.

  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy&gmail,com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:30PM (#15218120)
    Here in Australia, we have not seen much evidence that we have to be afraid of our government unless we're committing crimes.

    Like, say, recording a show off TV or downloading a song ?

    How about engaging in some peaceful protest or exercising free speech ?

    Maybe you'd like to ingest a harmless substance someone has decided you shouldn't ?

    The fundamental flaw with the "if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear" line, is the implicit trust that the Government will never decide to define something you think is perfectly ok as "wrong". This trust is naive at best, blatantly stupid at worst.

    We dont' even have a nationally established "freedom of speech".

    Yes, we do, from legal precedent.

    However, nobody who isn't taking part in illegal activity has ever been quashed or locked up under these laws.

    The issue is not whether or not they have, but the fact they could be at all.

    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.

    Having to forge but a single piece of documentation to establish an unquestionable false identity is only going to make it easier.

    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.

    I am glad you trust all those people in Canberra to always do the right thing. I think it's an incredibly stupid thing to do, but at least you're happy doing it.

    However, as always, I am amazed by people's complete and utter inability to learn anything from history.

  • Re:One word: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by randyest (589159) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:33PM (#15218132) Homepage
    That's irrelevant; nothing is inherently secure. Proper encryption and key management can make a secure smart card. How, exactly, do you think will it make "identity theft and creating fake IDs a lot easier?" It's currently trivial, since there's no consistent ID nation-wide. How can it get worse?
  • Re:Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by akpoff (683177) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:55PM (#15218216) Homepage
    I don't know where you live but I don't need ID to fully participate in society. Most of places I go require little more than the cash in my pocket: grocery store; bus; restaurant; city zoo; museum; book store; symphony; liquor store (if I look old enough); street vendor; post office; shoe shine stand; swimming pool. I pay my water, electric and phone bills without ID, as well as my property taxes. I even pay sales tax without ID. In fact, a fair number of places I go and things I do don't need even money for full participation: walk in the park; church attendance; conversation with passerby; library; internet access at library; browsing in any store or shopping mall; listen to street musician; jury duty (bring summons only); and countless others.

    It's only a small subset of things I do or places I go that I need an ID of any kind: places I want to use a credit card where fraud tends to be higher (some convenience stores and many of them ask only for my billing zip code which is authentication, not identification); night club or liquor store (which is often perfunctory authentication rather than authentication and identification); employer premisses (again, mostly authentication as anyone posessing my card can get in without ID); polling station where I can use my driver's license OR my voter-registration card which was a) sent to me in the mail, and b) has no picture ID so it's more authentication than identification.

    In fact, now that I think of it the only two places I can think of I've been to recently (past two years) that absolutely required identification were the airport and customs when returning to the US. Only once in that time did I have to identify myself to a state official was after an accident.

    In fact, in my whole life time I can say that a lack of ID would have prevented me from "fully participating in society" in the tens of times. Take out all airline travel and border crossings, and it's possibly less than twenty, certainly 30 or less. That list includes marriage, joining the military, birth of children, opening a bank account and employment. That's not to say I haven't identified myself significantly more times than that, but that was for my convenience. I choose to go to a club (which again, isn't especially rigorous id). I choose to use a credit card but I could just as easily use cash.

    I'd hardly say that "ID is already necessary to fully participate in the society". It's thinking like this that's going to get us to a national ID -- not necessity.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:11PM (#15218278) Homepage
    (1) we waste billions of dollars on (a) welfare (b) healthcare (c) education (d) law enforcement for people who have no right to any of those services

    Ok, that's a problem, arguably, but how -- specifically -- will an ID card do anything to remedy them? And keep in mind that "billions" is a trivially small (and very vague) number when compared to the US GDP.

    Presumably you're inferring that the money "wasted" on these services is on illegal immigrants. Clearly it would be immoral and counterproductive to withhold a), b), or d) from anyone, regardless of their immigrant status. At least, if you believe in the programs to begin with -- namely welfare.

    I don't believe people born outside of the US are any more or less deserving of welfare than someone born here, but there's a strong argument to be made that they're more deserving, especially if you believe in the principles behind welfare.

    Requiring people to present an ID to be eligible to receive emergent medical services would open a very large can of worms, and it wouldn't take very many lawsuits to counter the cost savings. I won't even get into the public health ramifications of letting people with contagious conditions go untreated.

    As for 1.c, education benefits everyone, not merely the recipient. It's likely that the children receiving that education are legal citizens anyway, since they were probably born here. Even if the children are illegal immigrants, I find it hard to believe that the immediate cost savings would outweigh the long term effects. Ignorance benefits no one.

    I'm not really sure where you're going with 1.d, but whether you mean protecting illegal immigrant victims, or prosecuting illegal immigrant offenders, an ID wouldn't change either of those, nor would it benefit society to create a group of unprotected residents, or to turn criminals loose across the border so that they can slip back in. Crime is its own problem, regardless of the migrant status of the criminal. IDs will not stop crime.

    (2) a national ID could be made more secure and harder to forge than the varied state ID's used now

    Anticounterfeiting, as with any anti-crime technology, is just an arms race. Shifting the reponsibility to the Federal government does nothing to counter that. The Federal government doesn't have any access to some special ID-making technology that isn't available to states, but even if they did, it would not change the nature of the arms race; it would merely be an incremental change. Additionally, if there is only one system, we would lose the benefit of "trial grounds," if you will, wherein one state can experiment with a system which, if successful, can be adopted by other states. State programs are also more versatile and flexible than their Federal counterparts, and usually run with a greater measure of efficiency.

    (3) it would aid immigration control and law enforcement.

    Because illegal immigrants are coming through the borders passing as citizens? Or because law enforcement is failing to recognize whether or not people are citizens when they are arrested? AFAIK, fake IDs aren't the primary means of illegal immigration, and I don't expect that would change simply because US citizens were issued national IDs, let alone more secure ones. Moreover, state and local law enforcement doesn't traditionally enforce immigration issues. Changing that could be done with or without national IDs, but it's going to cost money, which would again counter point 1. In fact, I don't see that illegal immigrants are either a threat or detriment to society in general.

    As for law enforcement with regards to legal residents/citizens, an ID alone would not make things easier. Should someone without an ID be presumed guilty? If not, then what's the benefit of having IDs at all, from a law enforcement perspective? If so, then that runs counter to one of the foundations of our society.

    It is far from clear that national IDs would provide any real benefit. The possible benefits are, in every case, marginal and uncertain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:13PM (#15218282)
    Any inconvience that this would cause would be greatly offset by the decrease in the crime rate. So yes, maybe once in a hundred lifetimes, I would be questioned about an innocent-but-embarrassing situation as you described, and once in million lifetimes questioned by her little brother. That is a risk I am willing to take

    People like you make me sick. America is turning itself into an almost 1984-like military state, and people like you can't get enough of it. "Think of how convenient it will be!" Let's see how convenient it is when your ass gets tossed in jail for leaving home without your precious, crime decreasing national ID card, asshole.

    I agree the GP's examples are contrived, but you're still wrong.

  • by BurkeChowdah (464221) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:15PM (#15218294) Homepage
    This is a pretty common argument. However, I always see a common trend. "I was doing something wrong (in this case adultery) and I got caught because of some entirely unrelated event." As often as not, it's an entirely related event. If you hadn't been doing that in the first place, if you had been at home with your family where you belong(in this example), then this would not be an issue. I would like to hear an example that doesn't put down this idea based on your ability to break the law, or do something wrong, and get away with it.

    I hear a lot of people that don't like Automatic tolling systems, in large part because it give the man ability to track them, but also because it could be easily used to catch them for speeding. Half of their concern is their freedom.... to get away with breaking the law.
  • by Serindipidude (939235) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:45PM (#15218456)
    I'm amazed the Americans made this about them so quickly. All the Oz govement want to do is know who they are giving tax payer's money to. If you don't want to the card, don't get one and don't put your hand out for free money. Simple.
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bobzibub (20561) on Friday April 28, 2006 @12:09AM (#15218559)
    The Rwandans had what tribe they belonged to on their ID card. Many people were stopped at roadside checkpoints and, well, you know the rest.

    I think that it does makes government services more efficient. Independent of what those services are. But do this as an exercise: count the number of people killed by terrorists. Then count the number of people killed by governments. Now who's your daddy?

    The second point to think about is what will your government want after that? Once we all have ID cards, shame not to use them, right? Wasteful not to have you not required to carry them. And the police will then have the right to demand them. That is the future simply for economic reasons: it costs a lot of money to track down criminals the old fashioned way. RFID sensors on every lamp post is a practical and efficient way limit crime, if everyone must carry ID cards.

    I'm not one of those gun toting freedom fighters living in the Osarks. I do not own a gun and won't. I don't belive governments to be a necessary evil: governments ought to be there to provide services to people that people need. But they are not necessarily always that benevolent. It is an lession history teaches us over and over.

    I'd pass on the cards.

    Cheers,
    -b

  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baricom (763970) on Friday April 28, 2006 @12:20AM (#15218610)
    I really don't understand the paranoia some people have with ID cards.

    I think for many people (myself included), the problem is not the ID card but the gigantic government-run database that backs them. What we don't want is for the government to amass so much data on us that they can manipulate us.

    Consider the staggering amount of information that businesses and the government know about you. They know how much money you make. They know how you earn that money, and where you keep it. In many cases, they know how you spend that money. They know where you live. They know what kind of car you drive, and if you don't drive, they can make an educated guess about your means of transportation. They know when you leave the state or travel in or out of the country. They know what kind of music you listen to. They know who you communicate with, and in many cases they know the nature of those communications. They know much, much, more, and they know who your family is, so they can find all this information out about them.

    The logical objection to this is that different businesses and/or government agencies have different subsets of this information, and that's true. However, the U.S. has the Patriot Act, which essentially gives the government a blank check to subpoena all this information. Most of it is linked to your Social Security Number, which makes it trivial to correlate given a powerful enough computer - and we know that the U.S. has that, too.

    I'll make the U.S. a deal - I'll take their ID card if they delete all this stuff out of their computers and repeal the Patriot Act.
  • Re:One word: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Andy Gardner (850877) on Friday April 28, 2006 @12:56AM (#15218748)
    What concerns were raised?

    Terrorism.

    How were they addressed?

    TERRORISTS WANT TO KILL YOU!!!!

  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fredklein (532096) on Friday April 28, 2006 @01:03AM (#15218776)
    As other people have pointed out, this purpose is already widely implemented - sans the scary "ID card" moniker - with nary a complaint. So why do the two magical words "ID card" get such knee-jerk reactions?

    Because a "National ID Card" would make it VERY easy to track everything you do.

    Does that make me paranoid? No. Just realistic.

    Right now, there are many many different forms of ID. 50 different State Drivers licenses, US passport, school ID, Birth Certificate, Social Security cards, etc. If Everyone inthe US is forced to have a National ID, then the NID will be used for all those other purposes. The NID will be your school ID. It will BE your Drivers License. It will have a 'smart chip' on it with your Medical data on it, back to your Birth Certificate.

    Just swipe the card when entering your classroom (to prove attendance). Just give it to the cop, and let him swipe it to check for Wants and Warrants on you. Just hand it over to anyone who needs proof you were born, and let them swipe it.

    It's everything, all in one. And that's scary. What if you lose it? "Duh, apply for a new one!" Using WHAT, exactly, to prove you are who you say you are? "Um, fingerprints?" like you leave around every time you touch something? "Um, iris scans?" SO, now you have me going to a secure goverment facility (can't let my iris scan data loose, you know) to get a new ID? How do I get there? Can't drive. No license. Can't take the bus- no NID to swipe to pay for it.

    It's also scary because, since it will be used for EVERYTHING eventually, it'll be possible to construct a log of what people do, just by where they scan their ID. You swipe it on your Digital Cable box to get it to unlock the 'non-child friendly' channels. Like CNN. You swipe it at the gas station to pay for gas. You swipe it at the corner newsstand to pay for your mornign newspaper. You swipe it to get into work. You swipe it at the time clock to get paid. You swipe it to log onto your computer at work. You swipe it to log off for lunch.

    Beginning to get the picture?? Since you use ONE card for all of these things, all your swipes can be compiled into one HUGE database. Along with everyone else's data. Who will have access to that data?? The government. It doesn't matter if you think the CURRENT Administration will use this data for good, or for evil. What about the NEXT Administration? And the one after that? Of the one after THAT?? Digital data can be stored indefinately. A man 40 years from now could be running for President, and his opponent could dredge up data from 20 years earlier that shows he deviated from his normal routine once, just as a crime was being comitted. Stalkers could bribe cops to get data on where their victims go. Cops could use the data to arrest YOU because you once got on a bus with an accused terrorist.

    You are probably thinking I'm nuts. This kinda stuff won't happen. IT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!* Just not so much, because people don't have a single, National ID card.

    And THAT is why people don';t like the National ID.

    .

    * Several months ago, a man was killed in England. He was coming out of an apartment building that the cops were watching. They followed him, and shot him 8 times in the head when he got onto a subway train. He was NOT a terrorist, he just lived in the same building as someone who was a suspected terrorist. That's ONE example of how you can be considered guilty by simply being NEAR someone. Imagine if the cops could just let the computer match up people and locations, instead of actually having to watch the suspects. How many time were YOU sharing mass transit with a terrorist or criminal this month?
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shelled (81123) on Friday April 28, 2006 @01:36AM (#15218865)
    Too bad, I did the courtesy of reading yours even after:

    (b) It was kept around for safety..

    That was contemporary claim, long disproven. The number of deaths did indeed decline because people were driving much fewer miles. An oil embargo was on. Deaths per million miles driven, the accepted standard, was within statistical variance, and had been steadily falling for half a century, which supports the gist of the argument I was making. Re: 55 vs 65 the speed limit was 75 before the embargo and for the previous 50 year was set by the 85th percentile, the speed below which 85% drove voluntarily based on conditions. Speeds had increased slowly thoughout the history of the automobile until Carter forced the 55. The 65 most of your country still adhered to last I did any traveling within was part of the same legacy of shifitng the criteria from roadway to social engineering.

          Re: the Income Tax, according to the History of Income Tax in the US on Infoplease:

    " In 1868, Congress again focused its taxation efforts on tobacco and distilled spirits and eliminated the income tax in 1872. It had a short-lived revival in 1894 and 1895. In the latter year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the income tax was unconstitutional because it was not apportioned among the states in conformity with the Constitution.

    In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system.

    Perhaps we can quibble about it being the wrong war but the priciple was correct. A temporary government act stretched well beyond its intent. Any deviance from perfect accuracy you can blame on the poster being from one of those other English speaking countries, not the US. The irony is you disgreed with every one the specifics and supplied corrections which supported the intent. Clever.

  • No threat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by piggydoggy (804252) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:16AM (#15218971)
    As an ID-card-carrying Estonian, I can't understand the commotion. A national ID card is just a piece of plastic, one that's more comfortable to carry than a passport, and doesn't necessarily mean you need to learn to drive to obtain it. It's a form of ID just like the ones you already have, except a that being a smart card it enables new possibilities for services requiring solid electronic authentication, such as online banking, doing taxes, checking your phone record or signing legally binding electronic contracts. It will not give the government any more information about you, because the government already knows and has always known everything the card is meant to convey. That is why you have to pay taxes, that is why you're not being deported for being an illegal immigrant.

    An ID card will not add anything to the equation, unless they possibly start gathering biometric information for an ID card, but not for the passport or driver's license. A "mandatory" ID card will also not mean that everybody would have carry one around, lest they be denied of whatever services or god forbid arrested because they don't have one or don't want to show one; "mandatory" simply means that every citizen is expected to own one and keep it somewhere, so that service providers can make services and be sure that their clientele is able use them. Whatever real world event or location, such as dinner with the President, would require your authentication, any form of ID would do, just like it works today. It's just another, convenient form of ID that everybody already has, but which also enables neat, strongly authenticated electronic services.

    BTW, the existing US system with the only half-heartedly secret SSN looks simply woefully ripe for identity theft.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mpe (36238) on Friday April 28, 2006 @02:58AM (#15219106)
    Wouldn't you rather have one well thought out, secure identification system, than many disparate insecure systems like today?

    The former only exists in fiction. There is plenty of fiction where the plot involves a supposedly secure system which is rather less secure in practice.

    Unfortunately, we can't go back to the 19th century on this one.

    There are better examples from the 20th as to why this is a bad idea.
  • by The One and Only (691315) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Friday April 28, 2006 @03:57AM (#15219230) Homepage
    The United States of America is not a confederacy. The United States is a federation. The Confederate States of America were a confederacy, hence the name, but they no longer exist. In a federal system, the members of the federation (American states, Swiss cantons) share power with the central government. In a confederacy, power devolves from the members to the central government. In a unitary system, power devolves from the central government to local subdivisions.

    Also, some European countries are federations as well, Germany (as previously mentioned) and Switzerland. Also, a "nation-state" is a state associated with a nation (i.e. a large number of people sharing a national identity)--as opposed to, say, a city-state, which is a state associated only with a given city. By "nation-state" you mean "unitary government".

    As to your substantive arguments, decentralized government doesn't ensure freedom. With regard to freedom, it has advantages and disadvantages. Alcohol drinkers in states that hadn't passed Prohibition were less free after the federal government passed Prohibition, but blacks living under Southern Jim Crow laws were more free after the federal government abolished those laws. I think in this specific case a national ID system would be bad for the other reasons you cite, but it's somewhat short-sighted and pointless to favor federalism as an end in itself.
  • Re:One word: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by permaculture (567540) on Friday April 28, 2006 @06:39AM (#15219568) Homepage Journal
    In Spain identity cards are compulsory from the age of 14 onwards:
            http://www.privacy.org/pi/activities/idcard/idcard _faq.html [privacy.org]

    Yet that didn't stop the Madrid Train Bombings
              http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/2004/ma drid_train_attacks/default.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • Re:Absolutely not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Bastard of Subhumani (827601) on Friday April 28, 2006 @07:25AM (#15219711) Journal
    Most Americans are oblivious to the amount of data already available on them and would revolt if they really knew.
    Most? Bullfuckingshit. To revolt they'd have to get off the couch.
  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday April 28, 2006 @07:34AM (#15219753) Homepage Journal
    I'm willing to listen if you're willing to describe a modern society without the concept of identity. Or did I just remove your ability to describe such a society by using the term "modern". That probably does make it hard cause "modern" basically means "like today". Let's see:
    • credit checks
    • age requirements
    • certification (eg, drivers license)
    • income tax

    How do we do those without the concept of identification? I'm sure one or more of us would love to do without one of more of these. If you live in a small town where everyone knows everyone you obviously don't need identification documents - but the concept of identification still exists.. your identity exists in the minds of those who know you. Bob at the bank won't give you a home loan because he knows you don't have a good paying job. Steve at the pub won't serve you beer because he knows you can't hold it, or that your mother would tell him off if he does. Tony the police man knows you to throw you in lockup for the night if you drive through another red light because he warned you last week not to do it again and similarly he knows who can and can't drive because he tested most of the people in town himself. As for income tax, well I suppose local taxes are pretty easy to collect because the bean counters on the local council can easily see who has paid and who hasn't. So great, we have a system where people don't need documents for identification. But how does it scale? It doesn't.

  • by solarappleman (950777) on Friday April 28, 2006 @08:04AM (#15219849)

    You cannot hide from your society. If one can make healthy living illegally for decades without trouble, that does not mean that one can walk naked or praise Ben Laden on a street without getting in trouble in 20 minutes. Because one's way of thinking generally must be socially accepted.

    National-wide IDs have not much to do with privacy. They are just a step in an automation process.

    Implementing National-wide IDs in a free society would never destroy neither privacy, nor fraud.

    If someone knows everything about everyone, that does not mean he knows something special, because people differ not so much. Whatever you've done, they will have to close their eyes if they have analogous records for many others of respected society members.

    Besides, until society remains free, there will always be possibilities circumventing any technological measures of control. Just because governments can not invent technologies. Governments can only use technologies, invented by people.

    But nothing helps if society turns paranoid. Nazis killed millions of Jews in Germany and in invaded countries, and felt no lack of computation power.
    Stalin had managed to kill millions for no obvious reason, and people had no practical possibilities to hide.
    Not that he had a perfect people tracking system. Social paranoia sufficed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28, 2006 @10:47AM (#15220801)
    Well, all of your supposed points in support of a national ID would in fact, not be helped from having a national ID.

    1. Illegal immigrants will not be stopped, or prevented from working here by a national ID card. The people hiring them do not currently check for ID's, or proof of eligibility to work in the US (as is currently required by law). The reason they hire them is because they can simply pay cash, at below minimum wage, on an under the table basis. If US citizens have national ID cards, then thats just one more ID to not be checked...

    2. Having national ID cards will do nothing to help enforce immigration laws. (see 1 above). Unless we have lots of check points "papers please" to randomly check everyone. And anyone needing a drivers liscence or other servies will likley just end up either getting a fake one, or impersonating a citizen to get a "valid" card from the actual agency which dispenses them, such as they frequently do now for drivers liscences.

    3. Fraud will in fact be *helped*, not hindered by a national ID card. The biggest form of fraud will consist of simply impersonating someone else via this new, convient standardized ID to commit some sort fo crime (such as walking up to the bank teller to make a withdrawl...)

    4. What we will catch is people who's identity the criminals had stolen. Not the criminals themselves.

    The real (and only) purpose of the national ID is so that the governent can keep closer tabs on normal citizens, to figure out "who's for [our political agenda] and whos against [our political agenda]". For example, people who read books or magazines which have a liberal, or non-corporatist slant, or go see a Micheal Moore movie (for example) will now be very easy to identify, and the districts which tend to have a lot of such people will discover that their voting machines don't seem work very well, or failed to arrive in time for the election (ala ohio and its 8 hour lines in democratic districts), or that their names mysteriously showed up on "names vaguely similiar to convicted felons" lists, which prevent them from voting at all, or that their voter registrations mysteriously got thrown in the trash because they had been mailed registration forms which had the wrong paper weight... Plus, such people will find it difficult to get certain government services, as the areas they live in will fail to get the same federal and state grants that more right wing districts seem to get. (think schools, roads, police departments, infrastructure projects, etc) and that new hospitals and schools don't seem to be built in their areas, and that their broadband access has been discontinued, and the phone and cable companies have ceased offering it for "financial and demographic" reasons... or simply that their rates skyrocket, and they never get the "discounts" like their right wing neighbors do.

    *That* is the immediate purpose for national ID cards. In the future, they may be used for things such as rounding up "potential terrorists" (aka, anyone who bought a book by michael moore, al gore, or ralph nader). But we havent quite reached that point yet.

    And once people realize that they in fact *can* be tracked this way, and that negative consequences will happen if they display a less then right wing extremest bent, then they are going to be carefull to not do anything which may get them on the undesirable list, such as speaking out against what the governent is doing...

    Sincerely
    Anonymous Coward

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