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United States

A Look Into National ID Cards 315

mr.buddylee writes "Last month Slashdot reported a Popular Science story on your privacy. This month the magazine has a couple different articles about the future of security after the attacks on 9/11. Included is a very interesting read on National ID Cards which looks at possible technologies integrated into the card. For instance, how would you like a memory strip containing a digitized image of your fingerprints, your photo, your medical history and flight history stored in your wallet? All secured with what could be a less than secure Smart Card."
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A Look Into National ID Cards

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  • A chance to have all of my medical history, flight history, biometrics, and banking info all in one place?

    <SARCASM>
    Where do I sign up?
    </SARCASM>
  • 2002 is 1984!

    • Winston Smith is the lead character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty Four. A highly reccommended read.

      If you keep your finger on the pulse of corporate media distortion then you'll see just how scarily close to Nineteen Eighty Four the world we live in really is. The Associated Press changes it's stories after publication to suit the suits. I need not explain the masses of new powers for those in power to snoop on us. Doublethink prevails, albeit in a more subtle form. And yes, "The proles have intellectual freedom, because they have no intellect."

      Mods please note: The "Troll" moderation was doubleplusridiculous verging crackthink!

      Ali

      • I'd have to say that, while 1984 is not without its merits, Brave New World is much more accurate. Globalization has replaced imperialism, power goes into fewer and fewer hands (political and economic). Corporate control is comparable to the heat conditioning and the conditioned rejection of education. Ford has replaced god; instead of Ford we'll most likely have AOL-Time-Warner-Microsoft-whatever, but you get the point.

        The book is about globalization, which I think is far more alive than oppressive government. The latter is only getting started. Meanwhile, we are very familiar with the former
  • as long (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@ya ... .com minus punct> on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:41PM (#4086153) Homepage Journal
    as there is a federal law that states I dn't have to use it if I don't want to and that its illegal for any non medical person to see any more then my photo, and that anybody who wnats to get my fingure prints needs a search warrant, and there are no repercusions for not using it, and I don't have to use to move around the country, I have no problem with it.
    oh yeah, I also want a pony.
  • Incredible (Score:2, Funny)

    by eric6 ( 126341 )
    The identity theft lobbyists must be mighty powerful.
  • Citizen, The Computer thanks you for presenting your national ID card. We find all information valid, please step into the processing chamber.

    Bzzzt! Flash.. smoke

    -GiH
  • Homeland Security (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:44PM (#4086168)
    Does the term "Homeland Security" creep anyone else out? It is reminiscence of German Nazis / Russian Communists to me.

    Your papers please.

    • by cosmosis ( 221542 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:23PM (#4086337) Homepage
      Yes, indeed. Never in our 225 year history has there ever been such a phrase used in our venacular - I find the eerie 'Homeland' very close to 'Fatherland' more than a coincidence and just downright creepy. Along with this 'Homeland' we are getting everything that was instituted in Nazi Germany, only alarmningly its happening more than twice as fast.

      I find the following quote sadly ironic:

      Two recent political leaders allegedly had this
      nefarious habit (cocaine).

      Both came to power after dubious elections, by
      non-electorial and irregular methods.

      Both nations immediately experienced attacks on famous
      public buildings.

      Both blamed an ethnic minority before forensics had
      any evidence.

      Both led "witch-hunts" against the accused minority.

      Both suspended civil liberties "temporarily."

      Both put the citizenry under surveillance.

      Both maintained secret and clandestine governments.

      Both created a new agency for domestic security - one
      for the Fatherland and the other for the Homeland.

      Both enlisted members of the citizenry to spy on their
      neighbors. see http://citizencorps.gov/tips.html

      Both launched wars against most of the world.

      One had a funny mustache. Can you name the other one?
      • by joshki ( 152061 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:54PM (#4086530)
        I find it just plain wrong. Point by point rebuttal follows:

        Two recent political leaders allegedly had this nefarious habit (cocaine).

        Allegedly is a key word here -- I'm glad you added it.

        Both came to power after dubious elections, by non-electorial and irregular methods.

        You call the Supreme Court of the United States, the final authority on law and order in this country "irregular means?" When something is as close as the election in Florida was, there's not much choice but to get the Supreme Court involved. Do you have a better solution? They made the right call, and many "recounts" since bear that fact out, whether you like the results of it or not.

        Both nations immediately experienced attacks on famous public buildings.

        So what?

        Both blamed an ethnic minority before forensics had any evidence.

        I suspect the NSA and CIA knew who did it within minutes - it wasn't a hard call. They had all the information, and when you know what you're looking for, it's very easy to find it. Their only failing was in not processing all that information prior to September 11th.

        Both led "witch-hunts" against the accused minority.

        No - looking for terrorists does not, in my book, qualify as a witch hunt.

        Both suspended civil liberties "temporarily."

        So did Abraham Lincoln and others. What's your point? It may not have always been the best thing to do -- but it is a power the executive branch has in war time. I know we don't have a "declared" war -- that's only because there's not a well defined entity to declare war on.

        Both put the citizenry under surveillance.

        We've been under surveillance for the last 60 years. The NSA was formed in the forties - you really think they've never spied on anyone before? Now you hear about it more - that's the only difference.

        Both maintained secret and clandestine governments.

        Sure... Right... The Illuminati are really in power in the US, right?

        Both created a new agency for domestic security - one for the Fatherland and the other for the Homeland.

        So?

        Both enlisted members of the citizenry to spy on their neighbors. see http://citizencorps.gov/tips.html

        You probably have a problem with Neighborhood Watch too, right?

        Both launched wars against most of the world. One had a funny mustache. Can you name the other one?

        Umm... Had to think about this for a bit - Does the Taliban rule "most of the world?" Maybe I missed a late breaking news flash or something....

        I gather you must be talking about our President by the election bit, but I think you may want to check your facts -- they don't really jive.

        • by jsburke ( 264711 )
          > So?

          So, I find the comparison between our government and Nazi Germany offensive as well, but the point remains that the current administration has sacrificed liberty in favor of safety.

          Instead of considering our system infallible and just saying "So?" all the time, we should be self-critical. Maybe detaining people (some of them citizens) for an indeterminate period of time is wrong. Maybe creating completely opaque governmental agencies is wrong. If you're too defensive, you'll never even consider these things.
          • So, I find the comparison between our government and Nazi Germany offensive as well, but the point remains that the current administration has sacrificed liberty in favor of safety.

            Instead of considering our system infallible and just saying "So?" all the time, we should be self-critical.
            I agree. We should think and act critically. However, automatically critizing the administration and fighting them tooth and nail for any policy that might "sacrifice liberty" does not lead us to a considered path. Rather, this method leads us to the path of avoidance, to the extent that it works, whereby we merely avoid issues because they are politically unviable. You MIGHT get the administration to avoid stepping on your civil liberties today, but what does that mean when that causes a lapse in our security and causes you to end up dead tomorrow? For all the criticism that I've heard of the administration on slashdot, I've heard very few people actually consider the alternatives and/or the consequences of inaction with anything more than flip answers. I hear people on slashdot paraphrasing Jefferson and say they would rather give up security for liberty, but they remain very abstract as to what kinds of liberty and how much security.

            Maybe creating completely opaque governmental agencies is wrong.
            Completely opaque, are you kidding me?? Not even the CIA or NSA is completely opaque, never mind the Administration. We know what is coming in. We know what is coming out. We can judge most of their actions and we can, and have, held them accountable for it. We even have a whole lot of insight into the day to day proceedings, probably too much. So it's a wild exxageration to say it's completely opaque. What more transparency can you _realistically_ ask for? I'm sure you have some (though I'd disagree with most of it), but be realstic. Those things are relatively minor on the scale from transparency to opacity.
            • The relatively recent Freedom of Information Act was a great step towards reducing the opacity of our federal institutions. I must praise the Clinton Administation for letting that through, as the FBI has abused its power in the past, and we must not allow the U.S. to become a police state.

              As for liberty vs security, the burden of proof should be on the government institutions: exactly how do further restrictions on our current freedoms provide us with more security? If the previous laws weren't being properly enforced, how does adding new stricter laws help the situation? Confiscating nail clippers does not improve the safety of airline passengers. A terrorist armed with only a bowie knife could not hijack a plane that contains at least 10 unarmed yet able-bodied passengers. A suicidal terrorist with an explosive would have better odds, but then, explosives are already illegal on planes. See, it is easy to prove that the right to board a public plane with a souvenier hand grenade is worth sacrificing for the security of the passengers on the flight. Now, why exactly can't I have a plastic knife to cut my microwave chicken?

              As for civil liberties, which should I sacrifice, and exactly how will that protect anybody's safety? The onus is on whosoever would violate the Bill of Rights to convince The People, otherwise The People can be as flippant as they like - though to be frank, I'm not sure which flip reamrks you refer to. "Don't tread on me", or maybe "Live free or die"? The defense of our most precious documents is not inaction, but rather our sacred duty as citizens of this great republic.
              • The relatively recent Freedom of Information Act was a great step towards reducing the opacity of our federal institutions. I must praise the Clinton Administation for letting that through, as the FBI has abused its power in the past, and we must not allow the U.S. to become a police state. As for liberty vs security, the burden of proof should be on the government institutions: exactly how do further restrictions on our current freedoms provide us with more security? If the previous laws weren't being properly enforced, how does adding new stricter laws help the situation?
                I disagree. Yes, FOIA has in some cases performed some good services, but it has also created inestimable problems. It sounds fine in theory, but the trouble is that it doesn't scale. When the various agencies are forced to cope with thousands of them, it presents a very large burden. When they are forced with the choice of spending millions of dollars litigating to keep something out of the world's eye, it may (and indeed has in many cases) forced them to reveal very questionable sources. What's more, taking each particular item on its own may sound like nothing, but there is a real problem when you create such a large body of public documents that the critical information can be trivially gleaned. For instance, it may not be a big deal to list the tencile strength of one bolt on a particular dam (and there may even be a good reason for knowing it), but when every spot of every dam in the country can be quickly and easily queried to find the weakest point, THAT is a real problem. Without acts like FOIA, the same terrorist would have to spend millions of dollars trying to query this same data to perform his attack on a budget.

                If the previous laws weren't being properly enforced, how does adding new stricter laws help the situation? Confiscating nail clippers does not improve the safety of airline passengers. A terrorist armed with only a bowie knife could not hijack a plane that contains at least 10 unarmed yet able-bodied passengers. A suicidal terrorist with an explosive would have better odds, but then, explosives are already illegal on planes. See, it is easy to prove that the right to board a public plane with a souvenier hand grenade is worth sacrificing for the security of the passengers on the flight. Now, why exactly can't I have a plastic knife to cut my microwave chicken?
                I pretty much agree with this. In fact, I would say it's more than just not helpful, it's hurtful. When we spend our resources trying to keep nail clippers out of the hands of 80 year old grandmothers, we're wasting resources that could be better spent on far more probable threats. That said, this is NOT what slashdot is attacking the Administration, for by and large, and these kinds of decisions (they often aren't any sort of policy) are generally quite far removed from the Bush or his direct reports.
        • You call the Supreme Court of the United States, the final authority on law and order in this country "irregular means?" When something is as close as the election in Florida was, there's not much choice but to get the Supreme Court involved. Do you have a better solution? They made the right call, and many "recounts" since bear that fact out, whether you like the results of it or not.

          Last time I checked, the Supreme Court declaring the winner of the Presidential election was highly irregular. In fact, it has never happened before, and I hope it never happens again. Better solution? How about we all go to the poles again?

          Umm... Had to think about this for a bit - Does the Taliban rule "most of the world?" Maybe I missed a late breaking news flash or something....

          No, but we do have troops all over the world. We appear to be involved in some conflict around the world just about all the time, and America has been for last 20 years. Do you remember the "axis of evil" rhetoric? Gulf War, Bosnia, Somalia? Troops in the Phillipines?

          Both maintained secret and clandestine governments.

          Sure... Right... The Illuminati are really in power in the US, right?


          Don't you remember the news reports about the shadow government that was revealed shortly after September 11th? From CNN [cnn.com]

          Both led "witch-hunts" against the accused minority.

          No - looking for terrorists does not, in my book, qualify as a witch hunt.


          No, but arresting [9-11peace.org] thousands of people [cnn.com] does in most people's books. Don't forget many of these people were not charged with anyhting.
          • Don't you remember the news reports about the shadow government that was revealed shortly after September 11th? From CNN [cnn.com]

            "Shadow Government" was a slipped up term that referred to the "Secure Location" that they send important officials during dangerous situations. If you've watched any movies or paid any attention during the Reagan administration, you'd have already known about the fact that there is and has been a secure location, in case the President was immobilized. Instead of reading the facts, they heard the name "Shadow Government", and suddenly concepts of conspiracy and evil men in black came to the minds of the crazed proles.

            I'm surprised you don't bring up the Globalization movement as proof of a conspiracy, instead of some government spud's freudian slip.

            No, but arresting [9-11peace.org] thousands of people [cnn.com] does in most people's books. Don't forget many of these people were not charged with anyhting

            Not charged with anything except joining terrorist orgs, supporting tyrannical regimes, and attempting to kill American, Canadian, English, etc. troops. If I was in charge and there was no Geneva convention, I'd have hung half those m0f0's up by their balls until they die, and I'd take the other half, give 'em a Gauntlet and take $100 per head for anyone wanting to play the most realistic Quake 3 multiplayer. It'd give new F'N meaning to "LAN Party".
        • Re:Homeland Security (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mosch ( 204 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @10:11PM (#4087518) Homepage
          Both enlisted members of the citizenry to spy on their neighbors. see http://citizencorps.gov/tips.html You probably have a problem with Neighborhood Watch too, right?
          There's a world of difference between an organization which attempts to stop crimes in progress and an organization which collects information on suspicious behaviours which may or may not be related to any future crime.

          I find it incredibly frightening that so many seemingly intelligent people can't tell the difference between TIPS and a Neighborhood Watch.

        • Your anti-hysterical dose of reality is much appreciated, but I must take exception to one particular point.
          Without a well defined entity to declare war upon, there should be no war declared. War is a drastic and extreme measure to be reserved for a threat to our nation's sovereign existance.

          Sure, it is noble to eradicate drug abuse and terrorism. While were at it, why not poverty? We should definitely use our military force against these evils, because a bloody battle is the best solution to these problems. Simply kill all citizens that live below the national poverty level, and we can finally declare victory. But then what do we do with the soldiers who are unemployed after the end of the skirmishes? Well, there was a WWII, after all.

          These metaphysical enemies in our media wars cannot be feasibly defeated, as they are merely symptoms to deeper societal ills. We can protect our nation without persecuting our citizens, or even our non-agressive neighbors. There are plenty of criminal laws to deal with violent criminals without the need to resort to military exemptions, martial law or autocracy.

          While I appreciate your rebutting the absurd parent, I must play devil's advocate for the last point (as odious as it was) just because it plays into my point. Did the Second Bush Administration declare "war" against the Taliban, or "terrorism?" Terrorism takes place throughout most of the world. "Terrorism" is poorly defined.

          Could "terrorism" include histrionic rants comparing irrellevant or tenuously-related events in history between a Plutocratic-Republic
          and a pseudo-Socialist Autocracy? Even if I don't agree with the crappy connections in the parent post, I should defend the posters right to express these insipid comparisons. So I must oppose the "War on Terrorism".
          • Without a well defined entity to declare war upon, there should be no war declared. War is a drastic and extreme measure to be reserved for a threat to our nation's sovereign existance.

            Good point -- but I have to disagree in this instance. I think the reason that we didn't declare war on the country of Afghanistan is primarily that we didn't have any beef with the regular people there. Their government had been taken over by terrorists, and I think we did the right thing by singling out terrorism as the target of our military actions instead of saying we were declaring war on a specific country. I know it's a semantic difference, but I think it's an important one in this case. We had no intention of taking over their country -- simply overthrowing a regime that was owned and controlled by a known terrorist.

            You are correct, however that terrorism is poorly defined. I would not be surprised if congress moves at some time in the near future to correct this, as we have a de-facto declaration of war against a non-entity right now.

    • They should call it "Patriot Homeland Security", and then dump food packages on us to make us happy. I could sure go for some pop-tarts right now, mmmmboy.
    • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:51PM (#4086510) Homepage Journal
      I guessed my civics classes where full of shit when they described our system of governance as a Republic, with a weak central government.

      In the Constitution v1.0 the United States was a federation of smaller contries (States) that United (United) for, amoung other reasons, mutual defense and to promote a common good. Several states (my home state Pennsylvania for instance) is actually a Commonwealth. Our state constitution and legal traditions trump the Federal system when the two do not dovetail.

      The Federal Government was constructed to be weak and fragmented so that the States could decide how best to govern their citizenry. The system has worked, IMHO, quite well for 225 years.

      When we speak of a Homeland, exactly whose home are we referring to? The culture of traditions of Texas are quite different from California, which in turn is radically different that Minnesota, and a far shot from Pennsylvania.

      People complain about how little gets done in congress, and how little the president is actually allowed to do. That is by design.

      • Re:Homeland Security (Score:2, Informative)

        by Exatron ( 124633 )
        I thik you need to take your civics class again. The Articles of Confederation were designed to create a weak and fragmented Federal Government, which didn't work out too well. States were setting absurd taxes on goods from their neighbors and even printing their own currency. The current constitution was meant to fix that by establishing a Federal Government that had authority in matters concerning the nation as a whole and when states came into conflict. It does move slowly by design, but as a result of checks and balances against corruption and an ability to be reinterpreted rather than an attempt to keep it weak and fragmented. It's starting to show some flaws after 213 years, but it is still better than the Articles of Confederation.
    • Re:Homeland Security (Score:2, Interesting)

      by metachimp ( 456723 )
      Yeah, it totally freaked me out. When was the last time you heard anyone say "Wow, that trip to Italy was nice, but I was sure glad to get back to my homeland!", or when have your ever heard a member of the military say "I joined the [branch of their choice], in order to defend my homeland!"

      I think they were trying to appear all wholesome and homey, and I'm sure that the Heritage Foundation gave them all sorts of suggestions. What I don't like about the whole Homeland Security thing is that there's no provision for un-making a cabinet position.

      The choice of Tom Ridge was interesting as well. Obviously G.W.'s way of saying, "Sorry, Tom, that Dick picked himself for VP, here's a brand-new cabinet-level position made just for you!"

      I just have to wonder: Is it really necessary? Do we really need another government agency to oversee the other government agencies? I just think it's going to end up adding another layer of red tape to cut through. If the FBI couldn't get off the dime when presented with evidence that something funny was going on, what makes anyone think that adding another tier to the system will improve anything? What is Tom Ridge going to be able to do that the DCI and Director of the FBI can't? (Other than coming up with a worthless color-coding system)
      • I actually pray that the DHS will be nothing more than a bloated beaurocracy, as inefficient and stupid as its' cousin agencies. The more mistakes that are made, the less effective they are at interfering with citizen's lives. In other words, I fear Heinrich Himmler more than I fear Colonel Klink.

        (My apologies for invoking Godwin's Law, but that's been done often enough in this article anyway.)
  • Bit-o-background before I get hated and flamed:

    Been with the scene since Dos 3.0 and ZModem, use and love Linux, programmed for 5 years in NYC... hate DRM and DMCA for the freedoms they take away, 2600 should have won their court case in regards to DeCSS...

    So why do I want a National ID card? Because right now, show a NY cop an out-of-state ID that is HORRIBLY fake, and he will almost never be able to reconize it. Scores of states (like 50 or something, right?) and scores of ID's all different. It makes no sence. With a standard, everyone would be familiar with it, and security measures would be better. They would! I know I know... "better like SSL assh0le" I might hear... but I would say "better like US currency". Imagine if every state had it's own dollar bill like it used to? Sometimes standards make a good base. LSB comes to mind. If someone gets smart and included eyeball biomentric (cause every other can be easily faked) then the system might work.

    And if you think that the "feds" might get at your pr0n or your precious hard drive with a national id, it's nothing they can't do anyway already. I could see only benefits. What would a national ID do in terms of taking away freedoms? Nothing I can see, though I'd love to learn something new.

    • A national ID card isn't bad, its the data they want to associate with it, but then do I need a national id card and a state drivers license??? I had no ID before i had my DL, do we require everyone over the age of 12 to get a national ID card??? Alot of issues come up, plus its just one more peg of making us more centralized and less free for the states to make laws and placing our fates in a bunch of politicians who don't give a shit about us.
    • Been with the scene since Dos 3.0 and ZModem

      Try goin back to 300 baud and those good ol atari atasci 8 bit days :P

      My only rebute to your statement is history has shown, anything that can be made can be cloned, humans included. I would hate for someone to use my ID to commit a crime.
    • the problem is, why do you need to show your ID to a police officer?

      But what happens when you have to show it everyplace you go? what happens if you change a pattern of behaviour and it sets of a red flag and suddenly your being investigated?

      This sort of stuff happens in russia. Back during the cold war, the USSR would do this, and that was w/o computers.

      eyeballs change with time. Plus the same way you would fake an eyeball, is the sameway you would fake a thumb print, by changing the data on the card.

      We, are a country of Independent states, with, what is supposed to be, very specific guidlines on what the feder government can do. Are fore-fathers knew that a central government that controls everything is bad for personal freedom.

      • eyeballs change with time. Plus the same way you would fake an eyeball, is the sameway you would fake a thumb print, by changing the data on the card.


        And here I thought it was to chop of the guy's thumb or poke his eye out...

      • Those abuses might happen in Russia, but that would never happen in the United States.
      • Well, patern of behaviour, hmmm when did I hear that? Oh yeah, I remember, few days ago when I got back from a trip to L.A. and found 8 calls from my bank to verify that its really me spending my money. I could feel more safe or I could feel my privacy is invaded by someone watching my behaviour paterns.

        Well, you be the judge...
        • I personally would not complain. better they call you now, than ignore it when some fool steals your credit card and goes on a shopping spree in Seattle.
        • I will assume the opposite of Neo and venture that you feel more safe. You don't usually spend money in LA, so their suspicion is justified, and could be useful in case somebody tries to "steal your identity."

          The trouble comes when your identity is not linked to your personality and experience, but to an inhuman and distinct physical token. Human relations are the best judge of "behaivor patterns". Humans possess empathy or compassion, while machines, numbers, statistics distill the humanity out of "human rights". My citizenship is not embodied by a card, but by my person.

      • But what happens when you have to show it everyplace you go? what happens if you change a pattern of behaviour and it sets of a red flag and suddenly your being investigated?

        I don't need to show my state ID "everyplace I go". If I change my behavior, it doesn't set off any flags in my state government, even though I am forced to carry a state-issued ID at (essentially) all times.

        Why would having a federal ID change any of this?

        • How are you forced to carry a state-issued ID? Do you pass Identity checkpoints at pain of arrest?

          Owning and operating a motor vehicle, must like a gun, required licensing and registrations. Owning and operating feet, much like fists, does not.

          Private establishments may require proof of age if they offer adult oriented "vices", but that is not the same situation either.

          Having a federally uniform ID makes seemingly minor abuses of power too convienient. Consider the Social Security Number, which was explicity not intended as a national ID for non-employment purposes. Now the SSN is bandied about in public situations, and most Americans don't realize how unfortunate this can be regarding privacy or personal security. Yet try to function on a daily basis at banks, colleges, without ever using your SSN, and see how futile it is. Many institutions try to use it as your unique ID, even though it isn't "unique".

          Upon acceptance of a federal ID, you come closer to experiencing the fascism of being forced to carry your ID while in public, or risk federal penalties. Freedom and privacy are worthy ideals.
      • The problem is... having a national ID does not lead to the other effects that you mentioned!

        What happens when you have to show it everyplace? What happened was that *something else* changed, not the existence of a national ID, but a more significant survillance.

        In other words, you take what *may* be a perfectly reasonable measure for *personal security* (it might greatly reduce identity theft) and conflate it with police state behavior and then use that to condemn the technological measure.

        Besides, we already have a national ID card in the US. It is called your drivers' license. Oops... it isn't national. BUT... that problem IMHO hurts the citizenry more than having a national one! It allows all sorts of fraud, because of its lack of standardization. And... it doesn't protect you one bit unless you are a criminal... because all of those drivers licenses are in the same database (or accessible through the same switch) just like a national ID owuld be.

        Let's not get too knee-jerk about security measures. Some are important. Furthermore, we are in a new age - where a single individual, through technology, may be more dangerous than an entire military fleet or division was in the past. In a world like we now live in, we may need different security measures than we have had in the past.

        The key to avoiding totalitarianism is not simply attacking every change in policing and security techniques. It is in fighting those which have no value, and more importantly, it is in fighting those who would actually engage in totalitarian practices.

        The ID isn't the problem. Someone who would track innocent people for nefarious purposes is the problem. Prevent the latter, not the former. P
        • You do not have to show any ID to an oficer. Your drivers' license is not national ID, but proof that you are certified to operate a motor vehicle, and you are only required to show it while operating one. You never have to show an officer your optional, non-driving state ID. BTW, what database is a nationally comprehensive compilation of driver's licenses?

          What sort of fraud does a non-federalized ID enable? Anything that threatens personal or national security? Potential corruption of the citizenry's morals aren't life threatening, but they do make an excellent opportunity to excercise personal responsibility! Why should I submit my privacy for a national ID card?

          A national ID in itself isn't a problem, just like technology isn't a problem. But the existence of a uniform national ID is an enabler to abuse, and it is worth fighting because it has no value. Technology is very valuable, but only with other resources can it enable an individual to become overly dangerous. These other resources (political, financial) were used in an old age with old technology, to amass a powerful military fleet. A single individual used these resources with varying levels of technology in the past, from Ghengis Khan and Julius Caesar to Napoleon and Hitler. One man was more dangerous than many military fleets.

          The key to avoiding totalitarianism is to value individuality over national conformity, freedom over jingoism, and privacy over bureocracy. A national ID has no value. The FBI has tracked innocent people without just cause in the past. There is no way to know if their purposes were "nefarious". If you were offered dictatorship of the United States of America, would you refuse? I'd rather you didn't have the opportunity, I don't want to find out. Likewise, I'd rather not promote a national ID and any abuses it might engender. To prevent totalitarianism, preserve preedom; know your rights, and assert them fervently.
          • You do not have to show any ID to an oficer. Your drivers' license is not national ID, but proof that you are certified to operate a motor vehicle, and you are only required to show it while operating one. You never have to show an officer your optional, non-driving state ID.

            So, what makes you think you would have to show a national ID to an officer any more than a state one?
            BTW, what database is a nationally comprehensive compilation of driver's licenses?
            National Criminal Information System - NCIC. If you are ever stopped while driving and give you "state" ID, the officer can, and will, run what in most states is called a "10-27" which is a drivers license check. That will go against NCIC if it is an out of state license.

            A national ID in itself isn't a problem, just like technology isn't a problem. But the existence of a uniform national ID is an enabler to abuse, and it is worth fighting because it has no value

            If it had no value, I would agree that the government shouldn't issue it. But it does have value, done right. Oh, and because of the current existence of NCIC, it doesn't make you *any easier to track* than a state drivers licence.

            The key to avoiding totalitarianism is to value individuality over national conformity, freedom over jingoism, and privacy over bureocracy.
            I strongly disagree. The key to avoiding totalitarianism is citizen participation in an open government. Whether those citizens are individualists or not is immaterial.

            If the nation is right, then national conformity is okay (not that it would ever happen). "Individualism" is a modern cult that started with the humanistic psychology revolution of the 20th century. Many posters on Slashdot seem to think it is individualism is a sacrament, but it is not. Freedom is the real political sacrament, and that includes the freedom to conform.

            I suspect you confuse patriotism iwth jingoism, btw. And there is nothing wrong with patriotism - as long as the patriotic citizen is willing to disagree with political leaders and work, within the law, against those who they disagree with. It is true that dictators use real or imagined threats in order to consolidate their power, but that does not mean that every additional security measure is totalitarian. Nor does it mean that every threat is imagined.

            And privacy, like any right (BTW, privacy is one right NOT specified in the constitution, except as imagined in "pneumbras"), is not absolute.

            With regard to all rights, a nation must first be able to defend itself against external enemies, or it cannot defend your rights. And even those strongest libertarian would agree that protecting you against depradations of others is the first reason to have a government at all.

            You are so worried about privacy, and yet I was once subject to the draft. Don't you think having yourself drafted into the military is a bit more severe than being spied upon? And I agreed with the draft, because I felt it was then (and might again be at some point) necessary to defend the rights of all of us. And, btw, I voluntarily joined the military and served my time - with no privacy or freedom of individuality or anything else, and considerable danger. So people whining about tiny losses of freedom in the name of national security seem pretty trivial to me! It is important to be vigilant but not to waste your time on the small stuff.

            If I wanted to be a dictator I would do all sorts of minor stuff to get the privacy fanatics, etc, all discredited (and exposed). But more importantly, I would work to remove the people's respect for each other and their respect for democracy (which is *not* the same as freedom, btw).

            The FBI has tracked innocent people without just cause in the past. There is no way to know if their purposes were "nefarious".

            Yes, and Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. And innocent people have been executed. Guess what! Life isn't perfect. But National ID's are not the problem, nor do they make it significantly easier for the FBI to track you, but they make make it easier for them to track Mohammed Atta!

            If you were offered dictatorship of the United States of America, would you refuse?

            Yes. Dictatorship is wrong.

            I'd rather you didn't have the opportunity, I don't want to find out.


            And duh... I suppose you think I want anyone to have the opportunity.

            Likewise, I'd rather not promote a national ID and any abuses it might engender. To prevent totalitarianism, preserve preedom; know your rights, and assert them fervently.

            Just out of curiosity, do you seriously oppose environmental takings of private land? How about federal controls on public schools? How about gun control? How about laws preventing doctors from informing parents about the abortions of their thirteen year old children? How about laws which force children and governments to discriminate in favor of specific races? How about speech codes at federal schools that make it illegal for you to use derogatory or racist language?

            Are you really for freedom?

            Do you support the protection of the american people from terrorists? Which is more likely to lead to totalitarianism: open security measures such as national ID cards, or the reaction of the public after some bad guys get in and kill, through WMD, a few million americans?

            What *is* the purpose of a government in your mind? In mine, the primary reason to give the authority to use lethal force to a common organization is so that they can protect me from others! Why else should I let them have atomic bombs, tanks, FBI, etc? And if I am to give them that force, why should I hobble them at the same time?

    • Why do we need to have a national ID? Why not just a federal minimum standard for ID cards, like data field locations, orientation, picture type, etc?
    • If you want to learn something, read Orwell. Then if you haven't got the point, maybe move on to Huxley.

      I'm not being rude, I mean it. They put the case better than I ever could.

      If you're not a reader, find a friend who lived in the U.S.S.R.. Ask them about what it was like to have serial numbers [cbsnews.com] on typewriters and copy machines, and a national informant system [citizencorps.gov], or to have to show papers to go from one town to the next, or at any time for any reason. To walk down a quiet street at night with a girl, arm in arm, but not steal that kiss, because you are not really sure you're alone.

      The psychological effects of these regimes are subtle and pervasive.

      The thing you want to think about is that, often times, the government does things not quite for the reasons that it gives. And surveillance is one of those things that has a lot of purposes besides preventing terrorism.

      Consider the fact that almost none of the security measures passed since 9/11 were related to published dificiencies in our previous security program's handling of the disaster. National IDs had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and would not have prevented the attack - the attackers would have simply had their own. They were in the country legally.

      The Soviets pulled out every stop. They did things the current pro-surveillance, pro-data-collection Americans would have nightmares about. I'll give you a hint. It didn't stop crime, let alone terrorism. But it did make a striking example that life in a totalitarian state is barely that.

      Our history in this country is that of refugees from government. And we organized our society in perpetual conflict with its government as a result. If we trust government, why have a jury, since judges are better qualified? Why have courts? Don't you trust the police? Wouldn't they know best who'se guilty and who'se not? Why have elections? After all, as Lenin put it, some things are too important to put to a vote.

      Instead we have checks and balances, and we have a sense that a life should not be lived in the shadow of government. That it should be in our lives as little as possible. That every time it intrudes, to collect a tax, to stamp a passport, to pull us over on the highway, it had better be giving us a hell of a bargain in return. Our country's resistance to ID's stems from a basic, visceral aspect of that conflict; I do not exist at the sufferance of my state. I do not need to be stamped and photographed to be legitimate. I am a free, "legal" person inherently - not because of my card. I am not, in other words, a number. But this sounds too much like rhetoric. The basic point is, let each agency who needs to know who I am ask each time it needs to. Let each give an ID if it must. Don't let government as a whole enumerate us; that's a bad bargain, because it doesn't need to. Only specific parts of it do. So let it do only as much as it needs.

      Of course, it also stems from the basic necessities; a national ID system is expensive, and it has no clearly stated and important benefits that justify its expense. If you say that it helps provide "security," you'll have to say precisely how.

      But I'd rather not preach at you. You should look at the works on the subject, read about the relevant history, and draw your own conclusions.

      -David
      • Re:I have an idea (Score:4, Interesting)

        by thogard ( 43403 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @08:42PM (#4087156) Homepage
        I remember the brian washing that went along with the "duck and cover" program that was going on until the early '70s in southern Florida. One of the reasons that the Russians were so evil was they convinced kids to turn in their parents. A line in a move made about that time (The Presidents Analyst) had a line from a Russian spy to the American spy "Ever year you become more like us, every year we become more like you. Soon there will be no difference". This is a very good movie and I expect anyone that is reading this topic is likely to enjoy it.
        • And that was an absurd comment. To compare the US to the USSR is like comparing a goldfish to a shark! There are major qualitative and quantitative differences.

          And the what brainwashing are you talking about with "duck and cover?"

          The only brainwashing I have seen about that is from people who have convinced you and others that the whole idea was silly.

          The american public WAS brainwashed. We were brainwashed by a media with an agenda - and the brainwashing was that nuclear was was not survivable, so duck and cover is silly. This tied in to the agenda of nuclear weapons ban movements, and the purpose for the disinformation was to exagerrate the (admittedly terrible) effects of nuclear war.

          Duck and cover made sense. It would have saved many lives and prevent even more injuries in the vent of a nuclear war against US cities - especially with the quantity of weapons that would have been used in the '50s and '60s.

          I lived through the cuban missile crises. My father had been a nuclear weapons designer, and we lived in the city that had (and still has, apparently) the largest stored number of nuclear weapons in the united states - Albuquerque, New Mexico (check out the mountain with the bunkers and the fences just as you leave town to the east on I-40). And my father one day showed the family *how* and *where* to duck and cover to maximize our chances of surviving the weapons he was an expert on. For some info on how deadly and not deadly the are, check out my site. [tinyvital.com]

          Likewise, civil defense and fallout shelters made sense also, but they were also killed by the ban-the-nukes people. OF course, nukes haven't been banned, but rather have proliferated. Oh well...
    • Because right now, show a NY cop an out-of-state ID that is HORRIBLY fake, and he will almost never be able to reconize it. Scores of states (like 50 or something, right?) and scores of ID's all different. It makes no sence.

      There is actually a very interesting advantage to the scores of different ID cards--it gives counterfeiters 50 different things to counterfeit. Sure everyone is gonna take a crack at the kindergartner can do it New Jersey photo driver's license. That hardly matters. On the other hand, take a Pennsylvania. The PA license has a devilishly hard hologram to fake--and my understanding is no one is trying to do it. On the other hand, if all the licenses were the same, and had the same hologram, that means that every single counterfeiter in this country would be putting all their effort, resources, and be discussing how to counterfeit the National ID card.

      Indeed, look at the poor bastards in California. Here we have a state that not significant changes to their licenses every two years (far more than any other state) and recently introduced a license that probably caused every counterfeiter in the nation to cream his pants. On the other hand, California has many times more counterfeiters than any other state, the license looks so good that people trust it without doubt, and the state issued a big challenge to counterfeiters everywhere, whether or not they are in California, to try it out. Somehow the less difficult Pennsylvania license goes right under the radar.

      I would also like to point out that the state of California, as I said, changes their licenses every two years to thwart counterfeiters. Not only do they not exactly succeed--but they also cause differently looking CA licenses to exist. Ohio has issued the same (butt ugly) license since 1995. California has changed at least four times since 1992, with two significant changes (at least four of those types are still valid.) So not only does your NYC cop need to know what a CA license looks like--he also has to know what four of them look like--all in the attempt to prevent unpreventable counterfeiting.

      Regrettably, few people realize this, and if they did, we wouldn't be in as stupid a situation as we are now.

  • by freerangegeek ( 451133 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:45PM (#4086175)
    This article is describing a supercard with all sorts of silly data 'encoded' onto it. The purpose of a National ID card should be simply to identify the owner. Sure, including biometric 'authenticating data' makes sense, but how much is needed to really identify a person?

    Including my medical, financial or other data seems to be exactly the WRONG thing to be doing. If I want money I'll use my credit card thank you. If I want health care, I'll use my insurance card.

    If we have to have an National ID card, Uncle Sam should stick to 'identifying me as a citizen' and not be in the business of recording my medical records, my financial transactions, etc.

    And yes, absolutely, my ID number SHOULDN'T be my SSN number. Identity theft is already too easy.
  • Silly polititians will buy into anything and help spread the fear.

    If my ID card stores my medical information, it looks like I would be more perfect if I didn't go to the hospital.

    If my ID card stores where I fly, it may appear I would be less of a suspect if I didn't go to the wrong places at the wrong time.

    Why do I need my fingerprints stored on my card, when my fingerprints are all over them?
    • >If my ID card stores my medical information, it looks like I would be more perfect if I didn't go to the hospital.

      Or it may save you when you get into an accident, and they need exact medical info about you before they perform that emergency life-saving surgery on you.

      Also, it's an AMERICAN Id card, chrissake, not the National ID card. Other people read /. too you know. I carry a national Id card. And a blood type card. And if I can carry my medical info in a card with me, I will. Basically, if I can carry anything that identify who I am especially when I am totally out cold, I will. It may save my life.

      If people is OK with having an email account and a credit card, why make such a big deal about an ID card? People can ID you in a gazillion ways already anyway.

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:48PM (#4086194) Journal
    is fixed by a stupid card, which makes you think you are safe? Right.
  • Now I live in a place where we do have a ID card, although very low tech.
    I think this card looks cool but there is a couple of issues.
    Once this new standard is in place everywhere, image having a faulty card. With all the gadets on it, I'd say you would have to take better care of it than your PDA.

    So a lot of places would require you to show this card, like taking a loan, getting a card to renting videos, etc. Would I like every shop be able to view all the data that the card could contain. I don't think so.

    I would be good to get a single standard id, that is accepted and hard/impossible to fake and that everyone knows what look like.

    It seems to me that the current databases of information has shown to be less than 100% correct, ahrm. So it would be needed to verify each and everyone from scratch so give the card any value. What use is it that you know that the card indeed belongs to the person who carries it, if that information was wrong to begin with.
  • This sort of thing is coming.

    It isn't a matter of if, simply a matter of when.
  • by DoctorFrog ( 556179 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:04PM (#4086259)
    First of all it's a silly idea to carry all your information on one card, because it's a security risk and not needed just to identify you, but it got me thinking;

    Would it be possible to include a biometric in smart credit card so that it won't swipe correctly unless my thumbprint has been put on it recently? That would stop a pickpocket from buying $200 worth of gasoline before I notice it's missing.

    You could also have a home bio-scanning device that would be needed (maybe in addition to a password) to contact your bank for skinning off disposable numbers from your credit account to shop online with. It would be worth it to people who do a lot of online purchasing, and partcularly for small home businesses.

    Bio-metric based identification systems aren't going to solve national security problems any time soon, but some of them are close enough that they could have useful applications for individuals andprivate organizations. Or are they?

    • Maybe you could take a scan of someones retina and use it to generate a long ID number. Then, that number would be used to indentify you to a national database.

      To buy gas, you'd use your card and verify your identity using a retinal scanner (hey, ten years ago, gas pumps didn't have card readers, either). Since your ID number is derived from your retinal pattern, it'd warn if one or the other didn't match up.

      Of course, this doesn't save you from having someone coldcock you and stuff your head up to the scanner Metal Gear Solid-style, but nothing's perfect.

    • I don't know about you, but my thumb print is all over my id cards. When ever someone asks to see my id I pull it out of my wallet without first putting gloves on. So now we get a id card with my thumb print on. Now all the theif needs is to finish the job is to lift the print, and put it on a false print. (See some recient stories on this, though I don't have the link)

      Biometric sounds good, and is a part of security, but it is fairly easy to fake if you want to. (Want a retnia scan, just scan the victums retna and past a picture on your forehead. Blood sample, no problem, they sample comes from a bag, not the theif, gathered earlier, until we figgure out how to create DNA.) Note that implimentation is left to the user, but a good thief will have no problem getting his own copy of the biometric data.

      That isn't to say biometric is useless. However the best security relys on something you carry (your id card), something you are (biometrics), and something you know (a pin, password, or passphrase). All 3 should be stored in a trusted location that uses security to aduit the machine wanting to identify someone before accepting data. (This security is not easy to impliment correctly! For example the machine must destroy itself before allowing someone to access data, which means that you have to renew your id every few years so the new machines know your id)

      However how much do you really need. My credit card is just one of the above: the card I carry, or the number if I memorise it. They use insurance and legal action to make sure fraud isn't a problem for the end user. My ATM card worries me more because if someone gets both my card and my pin they can get my money, and it is up to me to prove that I didn't withdraw all my cash. Even though it is more secure, I prefer not to use it because there isn't the other protections against fraud.

  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:09PM (#4086285) Homepage
    There was a case in the early 80s or late 70s called Larson V. California that went to the supreme court where the court held that requiring ID was not consitutional.

    The background was California had a law requiring ID. A man was stopped by police while walking down the street and for no reason ordered to produce ID. He had none and was arrested. The subtext was that he was black and the neighborhood he was in was a rich white area.

    • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:18PM (#4086318) Homepage
      Found the case, it's Kolender v. Lawson:

      [sdsu.edu]

      • Here's the decision [findlaw.com].

        I'm not sure how much this applies; prohibiting police from doing random ID checks is not the same as requiring ID at established security checkpoints. Who wants their every move to be in a database? Thank goodness there are not yet checkpoints at every state border crossing.

  • Many of the people who want to harm this country via terrorism, have no reason to fear a national ID card. Heck, some of the 911 "terrorists" were here legally and a national ID card could not have stopped them.

    The US Gov't just wants people to feel safer so that they spend money and be a good consumer. They aren't fixing the root of the problem (which, ironically, would save us a fortune... see my sig...)
  • Necesary and Propper (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:17PM (#4086310)
    Since Andrew Jackson the federal government has been overstepping its constitutional boundries little by little. "To control the mob is to control Rome; To control Rome is to control the mob". I campaigned for Bush. I actualy believed in him. Now I believe that he's no better than Adolph fucking Hitler. This Bearu of Homeland Security coupled with this new "citizen watch" (I don't remeber the offical name of the programme) put together a package that communist east germany would have been jealouse of.

    I strongly suspect that its nearing the time to invoke our moral right to alter or abolish a government when it has become destructive to the end for which it was created, a la the Declaration of Independence.

    • I've already adressed [current.nu] someone who has TRIED to make a case for what your TRYING to say [eagleforum.org], so I won't waste too much time.

      But, given the fact that we all NEED a Social Security card to WORK, a Drivers Licence to DRIVE, a ID to buy Cigerettes and Beer, why not have ONE ID?

      I am a long standing Libertarian (As in lp.org [lp.org], not liberal), and I am very for the National ID. Your kidding yourself if you really think that the ID is the problem. The ever expanding government is the problem, not some piece of plastic that makes it hard to counterfit an easier on my wallet weight!

      and for the record, I'm not a full Libertarian, ONLY because I am isolationist, very much a Jeffersonian, as our founding fathers intended. I think the government fell apart with "the great FDR" who made us the world's policeman ... which the LP's "open borders" doesn't transision well into given the world culture now days.

      How the hell did THIS crap get moded to +5 on ./? I thought much better of the readers and mods....

      • But, given the fact that we all NEED a Social Security card to WORK, a Drivers Licence to DRIVE, a ID to buy Cigerettes and Beer, why not have ONE ID?
        I read your rant, but you are wrong. A single national ID will automatically tie together all the various personal databases. No, not by magically moving all the data to the same location, but by creating a unique persistent ID which relates disparate data to the same person.

        In the current system, with separate IDs for every agency, there is no way for a cop who looks at your driver's license to also check out your employment history, credit rating, drug prescriptions, criminal records, religious affiliation, or anything else not associated with your driving records. The cop could not call up the AMA and find your drug prescriptions because there is no unique, persistent relationship between your driver's license and medical record. No, I hate to break it to you, but your name, birthdate, address, and phone number are not unique, persistent identifiers.

        If there were a single national ID for every person, someone looking at your driver's licence could call your doctor and find out your medical history through this ID that you, and you alone, have which he now has access to. So could a bouncer that checked your age. With a national ID, everyone will be able to find out everything about everyone else.

        It gets worse. What if someone steals your national ID? Now they have access to everything about you; they can withdraw all your money, take your drug prescriptions, sell your house, get your passport, enroll you in political parties or movements, take over your life.

        To escape this you would have to get a new national ID. Consider the amount of grief you go through to cancel your credit cards. Now imagine you have to the the same thing for every form of personal identification you ever used in your entire life. It would be a nightmare, but that's only the start. The new ID would be that of a completely new person, there would be no way to revoke all the times you had used the ID in the past. The person who stole your card would become you, and you would be a different person.

        A universal national ID would be a privacy and civil liberties disaster; the people opposing it are not idiots. I agree it's a nuisance to have separate driver's licences, blue cross, library cards, employee ID, and so on, but someone who would give up liberty for convenience deservers neither.

      • But, given the fact that we all NEED a Social Security card to WORK,

        Really...good luck finding that law...it doesn't exist. (You are refering to De Facto practice)

        a Drivers Licence to DRIVE,

        The ability to travel freely is the essence of liberty; it is a natural, irrevokable, right. That right doesn't change because your personal property uses an engine. The requirment of a licence to travel in any fashion is an abomination of freedom.

        I am a long standing Libertarian (As in lp.org [lp.org], not liberal), and I am very for the National ID.

        You're what us principaled (real) libertarians and anarchists call a Republican in Drag . What you are is a very confused statist. It's a shame the Libertarian Party has been consumed by your type. The LP was the last hope, and now all hope is lost...
  • By all accounts the last batch of terrorists had basically good documentation -- arrived with proper visas, dotted their I's and crossed their T's. So how exactly would national ID cards stop this kind of attack happening again? "Smart Visas" would probably make a heck of a lot more sense.

    I'm getting a bit sick of "The War On Terrorism (tm)" being trotted out as an universal excuse. If they want to bill the cards as cutting down on bureaucracy and red tape, or catching convicted fraudsters/thieves/etc, so be it, but otherwise, it's a bit late for kneejerk reactions.
  • While the notion of a single ID card issued by the federal (US) government makes me instinctively cringe, the fact is that anyone who thinks it would erode civil liberties further is kidding themselves.

    Our rights are already eroded. Blame the IT revolution.

    Any law enforcement agency (or unscrupulous third party) has always been able to gather all the info you'd see on a national ID on a person from different sources and build a "virtual ID" file for them. Back when the whole world used paper records, the process was too impractical to be done wholesale (not that that stopped people from trying). With electronic records, it became quite doable (what do you think a background check or credit check is?). A national ID would simply make it easier to snoop on a person by setting up a "one stop shop."

    America needs to wake up and be proactive on this issue. We need to protect civil liberties through establishment and enforcement of universal privacy standards rather than the patchwork of laws throughout our states. We're been living in a Fools Paradise for years, assuming that just because our data was scattered all over the place that it was protected (a twist on the "security through obscurity" belief). Fifty years ago it was only J. Edgar Hoover that had the resources to root out our secrets in all those paper records. All that computers (and now, a proposed national ID) have done is lower the bar for those with less manpower... if no less scruples.

  • Let's see, they are proposing that this card could contain:
    • Your USID number...Most logically your Social Security number.
    • personal data such as previous addresses, mother's maiden name

    Perfect, everything the identity thief needs to impersonate me, mess with my bank and credit-card accounts over the phone, and so on.

    I'm generally not a paranoid privacy freak, but come on, this is just obviously stupid!

  • If they ever do institute national ID cards there's one thing I want them used for:

    Voting.

    To insure that any person who votes in any national election is ELIGIBLE to vote in a national election and ONLY VOTES ONCE.

  • The problem with an ID like this is that ultimately it will be issued to individuals based on previous ownership of a less-secure ID, such as a driver's license or passport. The new ID would only be as verifiable as the data used to authenticate it, which in the case of driver's licenses, isn't trustworthy at all.

    For those born after such an ID was introduced, they could be verified and ID's essentially at birth, providing a factually verifiable ID.

  • I don't think the card itself is a big problem. Sure, you could store medical information and all that on it, but I'm not sure what point there would really be to that (beyond the medical information cards people already carry). We all have cards already, and at certain circumstances we have to present them. Making it harder to fake IDs doesn't hurt anyone who's legit.

    The real problem is much more trivial -- universally machine-readable cards. Just having a standard on how IDs are stored in a bar-code form would be enough -- the ID numbers already exist (every state has a license ID, prepend the state code and you've got a national ID). This doesn't exclude the possibility of having more than one ID and number (I assume there's nothing exclusionary in having different state IDs), but that would be easy to fix too (just match up SSN during ID signup).

    Once you have this reader possibility, big brother has nearly everything necessary. They're talking about swiping cards at every large building, every federal building, and with the new public-private "security initiatives", there's no reason this couldn't be matched up to all sorts of other systems. This could lead to a thorough record of certain activities -- many related to our fundamental rights and duties as a citizen. If the database was expanded further -- in particular, credit cards and other automated payment systems -- people's lives could be tracked quite closely. This wouldn't necessarily track any one activity, but would be a way of profiling. (Past experience shows that the FBI will use this to track any sort of dissident -- considering how often they've done it in the past, and that they have never been reformed, only slightly hobbled a couple times)

    But don't worry, the card would be voluntary (haha -- as long as you consider interstate travel voluntary, internet commerce voluntary, etc).

  • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @07:04PM (#4086613) Journal
    Whether the information is on the physical card makes no difference. In fact, most likely you would not want to store much information on the card. Only the basic: name, address, physical characteristics, digitized picture, and that sort should be stored on the card. Just enough to make it roughly equivalent to a current ID, but a bit stronger.

    For any effective system, the DB should be centrally managed. Both for revocation of ID's, and for security of the sensitive content.

    The card has the person's private key, stored in a physically secure chip. That key can be authenticated against the government's issuing authority (as can the validity of the data on the card).

    Then, data can be accessed from the central DB, according to the privileges allowed the requestor of the data, on the authority of the cardholder.

    There are obvious security / privacy concerns. Particularly if the entity you fear abuse from the most is the government. But, it has the potential to offer a lot more privacy and security than current completely insecure systems.
  • Since the posting-to-100-comments time for this article was relatively short, I'm guess most of us won't RTFA, and we'll just rehash the National ID cards in the US debate.

    I'll condense the national ID card debate Slashdot style:

    1. Some Americans (the smart ones) are concerned about the unconstitutional and immoral encroachment of the federal government and the State in general into private affairs,the cancellation of your civil liberties, and the abandonment of privacy as a fundamental notion of American identity. (Yes, I said immoral. And I meant it.)

    2. Some Americans don't care, and won't care, until someone comes after them individually, by which time, it is already hopelessly too late.

    3. Most Europeans will treat the Americans in (1) with disdain and in (2) with general disgust, and then go on at length about how the tradition in whatever country they're from permits a stronger *national* government and notion of the State while maintaining a firm but limited notion of civil liberties. They will then make a disparaging remark about American culture based on one of the following: Walmart, McDonalds, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, nuclear weapons, ballistic missile defense, or neo-colonialism.

    4. Some Americans will then counter the culture argument with some remark based on one of the following: grooming habits, combined GDP, nuclear weapons, WWI and/or WWII.

    5. People reading Slashdot from places that are not the US nor Europe will watch as the Americans get flustered at the European attitude, while the Europeans get flustered at the American attitude,

    all the while wondering when they will start listening instead of just waiting for their turn to talk.
  • by neocon ( 580579 )
    It's all very well to talk about whether the particular smartcard technology being discussed is or isn't secure, but this misses the larger problem with such a plan: the fact that forged or copied cards are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the security of these things. As with most systems, the real things to worry about are the human factors.

    Most proposed plans for a national ID have suggested that state DMV's should be the ones to hand these out -- but the last few decades have seen hundreds of cases of corrupt DMV employees giving out drivers licenses for cash. It's hard to imagine any other agency you might choose being much different.

    And in a world where this card is believed to be `secure' for so many more purposes, such cases will do even more damage than they already do, because people will be even less likely to question the documents before their eyes.

    So even if there were not serious privacy concerns with a national ID system, it is at best highly unlikely that it would buy any real security gains in return for the great cost and bureaucratic overhead it would introduce.

    Put differently: you thought standing in line at the DMV sucked now-- just imagine what it would be like after the people who brought you the IRS and the INS got done with it.

  • My Perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tteksehnad.> on Friday August 16, 2002 @07:17PM (#4086699)
    The whole National ID thing makes me cringe, as both a libertarian and a Libertarian, its pretty scary stuff.

    I recognize however that we have specific needs to track and prevent terrorist activities in specific cases.

    I would support a National ID/Database on the following conditions:

    Non-government entities can only query the central system for boolean operations, and only in restricted settings. Organizations seeking access to the database would be required to sign affadavits attesting to their need for access. A type transaction would be: insert card, "Is holder a citizen? (True/False)" and "Is holder on FBI Terror Watch List? (True/False)".

    All data that goes in travels over a system that is decidedly one way, and non-Internet in nature. "Entry points" of data - credit card systems, airports, etc etc can only add through a dedicated single way transaction.

    No data is kept on the card except for your ID number. The ID number is not printed on the face of the card, nor is any identification except your name and picture (so you and the wife don't get them confused).

    Data is stored using proven, robust public/private key methodologies. All code for the entire system is open, vetted, with substantial cash rewards for anyone who can find an exploit of any nature

    For any data to be accessed that is personally identifying - including name, address, purchase history, anything like that - a judge from the federal court, a sworn representative from the executive (for instance, FBI agent) and a neutral technican must insert biometrically protected private keys.

    A seperate department, that answers to only to Congress, must be setup with the ability and mission to prosecute any government offical anywhere in the country who abuses the system for any reason. Any breach of protocol requires prison time. Any breach of law requires a life sentence. Prosecutors in this branch try cases in front of a high federal court, with appeals going direct to the SCOTUS. Cash rewards of several million for each conviction by the prosecutors.

    Anytime data must be wholesale scanned, as in pattern matching/SELECT FROM/etc requires a hearing that will be made public record automatically after 1 year. A public defender (of the Privacy) will be present. Public Defenders of Privacy shall make as much as the highest paid employee of the US Government. In addition, privacy groups shall elect/appoint sworn Honoray Public Defenders which will sit in on every such hearing.

    The survival of the system is automatically placed on a special, single purpose nationwide ballot once every other year. If any anytime a majority rejects the program, it is destroy along with all data that it contains.

    Data collected about you can never be used as evidence in civil trials, ever.

    Data about you is automatically cleared 1 yr after your death.

    A Constitutional amendment making this legal is passed

    That should do it.

  • if it has a 20gb ipodlike storage and runs palm os as well.
  • Interesting article "Homeland Insecurity" from [theatlantic.com] on how some of this national databasing can make systems more brittle security wise, rather than more robust.
  • Smartcards get cracked all the time. Just ask a cable TV company. Smart card fruad numbers have been exceeding mag stripe fraud for years and one figure I saw set the ratio of about 10 to 1.
  • It seems like anytime people respond with references to 1984, we've already lost any ability to compromise. So I hope that some of technologies most adept would be willing to come up with some ideas on what the solution is, rather than restating the problem and saying how we are all going to die and all that.

    We already have infringement on our privacy, of course. Cops stop your car and ask people for their driver's licenses all the time. This is okay, since we don't want people without licenses driving. The rest of it is okay to that is on the card, since its okay to make sure the car is not stolen and that the person is who they say they are.

    We already produce our social security number when we apply for employment or enroll for college.

    Are the privacy advocates against these forms of identification?

    If not, then rather than attacking every incarnation of a national identification system, propose a solution. Make a position on how far is too far as far as identification goes. Come up with a compromise.

    Do you want separate medical cards (for doctors and hospitals), security cards (for airports and bands, and general cards (for street police and any of the above) instead of one card with all the above information on it? Do you want laws written on who can legally ask for the information on the card? Do you want all the information stored on the card or available in an online database? If the later, then do you want the ability to say who has access to this up-to-date information (such as former employees)?

    Regardless of what the radicals believe, we (at least in the US) still live in a constitutional system. We have a Bill of Rights that guarentees we'll never come close to the kind of dystopia in 1984. That would require a radical overthrowing of our government.

    Just like the restrictions placed on software, we should not complain that a certain restriction is bad, but rather remind people when and where we step the line.

    In otherwords, say what you want or don't complain when you don't get it.

    (this is aimed a many of the comments posted here on slashdot, if there are real privacy organization doing the above, then I wish the best)
  • National ID cards should actually have less information on them than current driver's licenses: they should have name, ID number, photo, and, possibly, some secure, one-way biometric identifier (i.e., an identifier that can't easily be used to fake the biometric signal). It might make sense to put a bit on there that indicates whether the person is permitted to work in the US and whether the person is a US citizen.

    There should be no information on a national ID card about medical history, organ donation, marital status, driving history, or anything else. All information should be human readable, and there should be no writable content. Anybody with a right to know should keep their own database of such information and should be required to comply with strict privacy regulations.

    Unfortunately, the hysteria about national ID cards on the one hand, and the incompetent efforts at designing them on the other hand, just keep degrading our privacy. Foes of national ID cards condemn us to continued reliance of indentification methods that both expose too much personal information (driver's license, social security) and are unreliable and highly susceptible to identity theft. And the folks now influential in the federal government seem to think that a national ID card system should satisfy every pipe dream of a neo-fascist world view in which the state controls and knows everything.

    We need a solid national ID system, and we need strong privacy legislation. Anything less than both of those condemns Americans to continued invasions of privacy from crooks, companies, and the government.

  • I'd like to see it implemented. Such a device could be extremely convenient with airport check ins to check your history, for paying for stuff, etc...

    What I DO NOT want to see is this or any other ID card sceme being mandatory. I like being able to walk around at random at 2AM without any ID just because. But, this could be a useful tool as long as it is not required to access basic services, but is implemented as a voluntary way to streamline the process.
  • by gestapo4you ( 590974 ) on Saturday August 17, 2002 @06:46AM (#4088394)
    Never seen this many disinformers spinning in the ceiling before(joshki, C0LDFusion etc.). Damage control galore.

    Points awarded for every lie found in their rhetoric.

    Oh btw, here's one to get you started.

    joshki wrote:
    "I don't agree with the patriot act either. It was an ill-considered, knee-jerk reaction to a horrible situation."

    The Fact is that an act like the "Patriot Act"(sic) takes more than six(6) months to put together, even if you have a dreamteam of lawyers working around the clock.
    So, a "knee-jerk reaction" is NOT the proper wording here.

    The Fact is that the "Patriot Act" was introduced and clubbed through over night!
    NOT A SINGLE ONE of the people in the Congress were allowed to read through it before they had to decide on it. Mighty democratic!

    I suggest that some people go back to school since it will take a little more than that to fool people that everything that happened on 9/11 and afterwards has just been coincidents.

    Finally, for those who don't believe that there are criminals in high places in the US. Just take a look at the "Operation Northwoods" docs. JFK happened to get wind of the operation and stopped it before he "coincidentally" got his brain splattered all over his wife. As an educational excercise into corruption, compare the people involved in the Warren Commision and the people involved in the "commision" that has been put together to "bring light" into what happend on 911.

    Points awarded for every correct match.

    Bonus awarded for every correct answer of who's dad's name appears in that investigation too.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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