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Are National ID Cards a Good Idea? 746

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

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  • One word: (Score:4, Funny)

    by rune2 ( 547599 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:52PM (#15217139) Homepage
    • Re:One word: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:56PM (#15217173) Journal

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

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

      Score one for the little guys.

    • Re:One word: (Score:3, Insightful)

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

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

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

        • Homersexuals
          Doh! Doh! Doh baby!
        • 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?

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

            by Chowderbags ( 847952 )
            Because generally individual states don't have the resources to set up anything close to the level of surveilance programs that the feds can (and are getting more aggressive about) managing. True, states can be just as bad at enacting laws as Congress, but usually don't have the teeth, and even if the state tries to bring you to court, you've got more layers of appeals.

            Although I suppose it also doesn't hurt that in most states it's only a few hours drive to the capital of the state, so a angry mob can a
          • 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.


            • "Once we all have ID cards, shame not to use them, right? Wasteful not to have you not required to carry them."

              Clue... it comes in this form : xxx-xx-xxxx and you were given it at birth. The old cards said "Not to be used as a form of identification" Newer cards have that little tidbit removed. You should have been scared years ago ;-)

              I still think a "National ID Card" is redundant and stupid, and a waste of money.

              My 2cents

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

            by Baricom ( 763970 )
            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
          • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

            by fredklein ( 532096 )
            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 in
          • You need to get the fuck over yourself with these horseshit comparisons. Cars are useful and the right of the citizen to own and operate. The same thing applies (at least in the USA) with guns. In high contrast, there's no use, or right to own and operate with a national ID card (or comprehensive database entry). NID is only useful to the government, and not only that, but fulfills a sick government need for excessive legal control of our lives ... which is the very meta-topic that is always voiced here
        • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kraada ( 300650 )
          Only three modded up posts and 21 minutes until Godwin's Law [wikipedia.org] was shown to be true. A new slashdot record!
        • 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:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ottothecow ( 600101 )
        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?
        • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:30PM (#15217468)
          The GP obviously does NOT understand what a "national" ID is.

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

          So, having one item that can be used for identification purposes is not the same as having one item that DOES identify you.
        • Re:Absolutely not (Score:5, Informative)

          by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:37PM (#15217519)
          Here is a recent case law [epic.org] from Nevada. Guess you loose. Yes they can force you to give them your drivers license. Further Drivers licences are often used for things that have nothing to do with driving. Bar and night clubs use them, Movie theaters, stores require them for other age restricted goods aka tobacco and pr0n.
          • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ottothecow ( 600101 )
            bar's clubs and stores however can't demand your ID. They wont serve you if you dont show them, but that is your choice. Same with driving, you dont have to have a drivers license but you cant drive without one.

            You can still walk around with empty pockets in this country without having to worry about a "papers please"

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

            by slashname3 ( 739398 )
            Further Drivers licences are often used for things that have nothing to do with driving.

            Boarding commercial airliners....

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

        by rkcallaghan ( 858110 )
        Please tell me you have concrete examples of this, and aren't just talking out your ass.

        Whenever this comes up, someone says exactly what you just did. It's really starting to hurt me, so I will provide you with a concrete example:

        Me. Yes, me, Rebecca, personally. No third hand relay.

        Even our limited "National ID" known as a Social Security number has been enough to ruin my life right now. Long story short, my birth records were all kinds of fucked up. The state of Arizona heard my case, and
    • 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.
      • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shelled ( 81123 )
        There are many examples of goverment programs and statutues which quickly morphed well beyond the original intent. Income tax was a temporary measure to fund World War 1. The 65 mph speed limit began as another temporary measure to reduce gas consumption during an oil embargo by Middle East producers in the 1970's. Now it's a major law enforcement revenue stream under the rubric 'safety' and some countries are even contemplating permamently tracking all vehicles for compliance to speed limits. The RICO stat
        • Re:Absolutely not (Score:5, Informative)

          by ipfwadm ( 12995 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:04PM (#15218002) Homepage
          Income tax was a temporary measure to fund World War 1.

          Well, I got to here, and I almost stopped reading. Sorry, but the income tax in the U.S. has been around since the Civil War, which was more than 50 years before WWI. There were some issues with constitutionality for a while there, but the 16th Amendment, which brought about the income tax for good, was ratified in February 1913, a year and a half before WWI started, and four years before the U.S. got involved. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

          But I decided to keep reading, until I got to:

          The 65 mph speed limit began as another temporary measure to reduce gas consumption during an oil embargo by Middle East producers in the 1970's.

          (a) That was 55mph, not 65.
          (b) It was kept around for safety, because there was a drop in highway deaths after the limit was lowered. Correlation not causation, perhaps, but that was the rationale.

          Didn't read the rest of your post, since I figured with such glaring mistakes in the first three sentences the rest of it would be pretty suspect.
          • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Interesting)

            by heli0 ( 659560 )
            I think he meant to refer to withholding, which was implemented during WW2, but not repealed as had been done previously at the end of wars.

            http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/taxes /ustax.shtml [ustreas.gov]

            "Another important feature of the income tax that changed[during WW2] was the return to income tax withholding as had been done during the Civil War. This greatly eased the collection of the tax for both the taxpayer and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. However, it also greatly reduced the taxpayer's awarenes
          • Re:Absolutely not (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Shelled ( 81123 )
            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 previ

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

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


      - The Authorities
    • 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!
    • On the other hand, it would enable a secure method of controlling who can have access to your identity. Right now all I need is your social security number, your name, and a couple of details like your address and I can get credit in your name. I'd much rather have a strong smart card that authorized the use of my identity and credentials before any financial transactions could take place. I don't fear my government, I fear the identity thieves.
    • Re:Absolutely not (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...
  • 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.
    • Re:Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

      [gets his metaphor on]

      So, they're raping you illegally. Been doing it for years. Now, they're offering to rape you a lot more thoroughly, and remove your legal right to complain or stop them, but it's OK, cos they promise to use a condom, and after all, they have proved very trustworthy in the past, so why not?
    • Re:Yes (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:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ejdmoo ( 193585 )
        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:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe ( 36238 )
          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.
      • 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 Macondo ( 836066 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:58PM (#15217182)
    The politicians in this country are reticient to use the word id. They prefer access card. Also we do have a choice of whether to get one. Of course if you don't then you can't access government medical and welfare services. Funnily enough this was announced on the same day that the government said it wants an Australian Citizenship test to make sure you're Australian enough before entering the country. Yep we're really laid back over here.
  • No? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Thats all you can say? Your goverement will trample your rights as individuals by haveing a standerdized way of telling who is who? I honestly think a national ID would be a good thing (at least here in the US). Every work a cash register and have to card someone with an out of state ID? Its easy to get away with a fake ID if you make it from a state most people are not familiar with.
    • Re:No? (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
  • by iago ( 4917 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @07:59PM (#15217203)
    http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0404.html#1 [schneier.com]

    I'd throw in my opinion, but I'll defer to Bruce.
    • Shneier is wrong (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.
  • 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.
    • We already have that, its called a drivers license or an 18 plus card if you can't drive, this isn't America, we only have 6 states and 2 major territories. It's not that hard to remember what they all look like. Especially when they basically all use the same security methods. Yes you can get a fake one, but you could get that for any ID card the government brought out.
    • 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).
  • A terrible idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <{frogbert} {at} {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.
    • I agree that they'll likely be forged, but it won't be as simple as you make it out to be. Smartcards are usually just crypto processors [google.com]. That is, they don't just emit a sequence of data, but instead respond to a challenge with a unique hash of that challenge.
    • Re:A terrible idea. (Score:3, Informative)

      by otmar ( 32000 )
      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.

      Hello? GSM SIM cards cannot be copied by just monitoring them during operation. They use challenge/response based cryptography. You

  • by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:02PM (#15217235)
    ...I personally don't see what's the big fuss about. Back in Slovakia, we've got national ID cards (called "Citizen's Card"). We use them only for identification; the same way I use a driver's license in the US. the ID cards have five pieces of information: Your picture, name, address, date of birth, and a unique ID number. This makes it no different from a US driver's license, with the small distinction that with the exception of writing personal checks you don't give out your DL number. Instead, you use the social security number as your identifier.

    Of course, I don't dispute that ID cards can be abused, for example by having them carry much more of your personal information. However, that's not the ID card's fault; it's the responsibility of the government to determine which information will be available through an ID card.
  • Depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:02PM (#15217240) Homepage
    Absent any other factors, I think most slashdotters would say that not having a country-wide ID card is greatly preferable to having one.

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

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

    Make sure you're protesting the right thing.
    • Re:Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JimBobJoe ( 2758 )
      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 rand
    • Re:Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

      by akpoff ( 683177 )
      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 mone
  • I'll tell you what I am getting tired of--the state of VOTING!

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

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

    And let's get id checks to vote.

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


    In conclusion, any kind of national ID, free to those who need it freely, that proves citizenship and can be used by st
  • 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.
    • The problem with an ID card, as I see it, is that it gives the government lots of information about the citizenry, which it should not *need* to know.

      What information? Specifically, what information that the government does not already have?
  • Uhhh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Random Utinni ( 208410 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:05PM (#15217259)
    Didn't we discuss the Australian ID card issue this morning?

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

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

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

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

    They took down my name, SS#, address, and phone number, and had me sit down and wait. Next came the fingerprints, which were done with a scanner that told the operator how readable the prints were (pass/fail). When they
  • As far as the US goes, we have national ID as such but two badly repurposed hacks that function along similar lines. There are the state-issued drivers licenses and there is the nationally-issued social security ID number. Both are used extensively in identification, neither really work well. Drivers licenses aren't really meant to prove beyond doubt an identity, can be forged, and differ from state-to-state. Social security IDs are treated by some places as private and others as public and they don't have
  • by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel@bc g r e en.com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @08:19PM (#15217377) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • 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.

    • Germany is a federation aswell. Where do you draw the line?
    • 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 federa
  • by rg3 ( 858575 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:04PM (#15217708) Homepage
    I have never lived in a country without a national ID card so I'm not sure what are the advantages of having or not having such a document. In Spain, we've had national ID cards since before I was born, and I have one, of course.

    My general feeling is that they're a good idea if used right, which I think is the situation now. National ID cards are used mostly in situations when they want to establish exactly who is going to participate in a given event. The national ID number is a private data, like your phone number. Nobody knows which is your national ID number and when you're requested to give it, you have the impression you are going to establish a formal and serious relationship/business with something or somebody.

    For example, it's usually requested in contracts. Let's suppose you buy a house. Your contract says the amount you are going to pay, the conditions, etc, *and* your national ID. So it is *you* who is buying the house and not somebody else. And the house will belong to *you* and not somebody else. And it's also requested for the company to have a similar number that will be in the contract. So it's *that* company. But, for example, you are not requested to give your national ID when you buy a PC.

    I was requested to give my national ID number (and show the card, of course) when I started my studies at the university. While not a common practice, some teachers requested the cards at the final exams. They have a list of people who has paid to assist their classes and go to the exams, they bring that list to the exam and ask people for the card to enter the exam room. That way, they make sure it's really *you* who is doing the exam and not somebody else in your behalf.

    Another usual situation in which you are requested to show your ID card is when paying with a credit card at some supermarket or shop in general. Instead of checking that your signature matches the one in the credit card, which is a loose relationship IMHO (and easy to fake), you show your credit card and your ID card. The shop assistant holds both cards in their hands and checks that you are the one in the ID card by looking at the picture and that the name in the credit card matches the name in the ID card. This way you couldn't use a stolen card unless your name and the owner's name match. Note that in Spain you have one name and two surnames (one from each parent), making coincidences slightly more unusual.

    And a final word about the cards themselves: they have the typical security measures used for bills and other "official" documents (probably on a higher paranoid level I'd say). Of course, they can be faked, like everything, but it's not easy at all for a common individual to do it. Currently it's made of plastic, with special ink and your picture, of course, it not attached to it, it's printed on the card itself.
    • The difference between "good" and "bad" National ID's is made by the Government. And it strikes me, from the reactions I've seen here, that Americans fear their Government a lot more than people who have lived for 50 years under a communist dictatorship.

      What the parent told about Span is pretty much the norm for many countries in Europe, especially Eastern Europe. It's mostly bureaucracy, but there are good sides to it. Identity theft is almost unheard of, and even if attempted it cracks down as some point
  • 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
  • Pros and cons (IMHO) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morto ( 525092 ) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:19PM (#15217789)
    First, let me apologize to the poster.
    I know you asked for people who lived in places where this has been implemented but I took the liberty to put in my 2 cents too.

    In Brazil we do not have a national ID. We have one document called R.G. (Registro Geral) but despite the name it is a regional controlled ID and it is not guaranteed to be unique nationally.

    P1. Unique ID has its advantages.
    I recently worked on a national children oncology system and uniquely identifying a patient was and is a problem. It is very cumbersome to guarantee uniqueness, safety, precision and portability and a unique identifier provided by a national ID card would be very nice. And we all REALLY want to be sure the right treatment is being provided to a child with cancer.

    P2. Less bureaucracy.
    Less documents to be issued, less fields to fill in forms, less redundancy.

    P3. Less mistakes.
    Identity theft apart we have still honest mistakes. What a pain in the neck was to prove that my dishonest homonym (I meant to say a person with the same name as mine, I am not sure if that's the right word) was not me when I was buying my first apartment.

    P4. Easier to track the bad guys.
    The good side of the big brother / privacy issue.


    C1. Easier to track the good guys too.
    Privacy, civil liberties, etc may suffer abuses having an instrument that would make it easier to track everyone.

    Did you watch "V" ? I liked it.

    Any other cons ?

    Considering these points I would say YES, let's go for it.

    Best regards to all,

  • Depends. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> 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.

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