A national identity card is a small portable document, that someone is required to carry to promote national security and identify potential terrorist in a state. National identity cards have different information but certain information is common. This may include the name of the person, place of birth nationality, and age.
Id cards have been used for several reasons including to eliminate racial, political or religion discriminations.
In the United States, the citizens have resented the use of identity card system.
In the United States, there are no common identity cards used because there is no federal agency that issues identity cards to all Americans. Opposition of national identity cards from liberal and conservative politicians has also made it difficult to use national ID’s in U.S.
The United States of America have encouraged the use of a birth certificate issued shortly after birth to the child parents, to identify someone as a US citizen. Social security cards are used for identification in the absence of a national ID cards. The drivers license is used in all states and must be carried always when operating a vehicle. Law enforcement officers request for the driver’s license to identify people who are not qualified to drive usually due to underage. The driver’s license is also used when boarding on airliner. They are recognized in all other states no matter where they were issued. (http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/nationalidsystem.html)
Social security number (SSN) was created in 1936 to be used only by the social security system. It use has increased and expanded making the government believe that it could be used as a unifying factor. In 1971, social security administration rejected the conversion of the SSN to a national ID. This was seen again when the federal advisory committee rejected the idea of a national identification. (Bray llona. 2006. 22).
Most of the American administrations have rejected the use of national ID. In 1977, the carter administration refused to convert the social security number to a national identifier.
The Reagan administration also announced that it was not for the idea of a national identification. However the government of President Clinton in 1993 advised its citizens to use a Health security card and assured them that the card would be private and confidential but the idea was rejected. In 1999, a provision that was passed by the illegal immigration reform to include the social security number on drivers’ license was repealed by the congress. In 2004, the department of Homelands security said that there was no need of National ID cards.
Proposals have been passed to standardize the drivers’ license so that they are used as National identification, but they are being debated. In 2005 the REAL ID Act 2005 was passed by the US congress that mandates federal requirements for drivers’ license. This act will make drivers license a de facto national ID because those found without the card would be suspected and viewed with scrutiny. The real Id Act was a law imposing federal technological standards on drivers’ licenses and identification cards and mandated the sectors compliance by May 2008.
They concluded that there would be penalties imposed on citizens and states for non-compliance with the terms of the real ID act. The penalties will include loss of federal funding, inability of international travel since the federal government overseas airport and other international travel gateways.
According to the congress, the national ID card will be initially voluntary but with time, the card was to be made mandatory. The card would create two classes of people in the United States. The first class would be the cardholders while the rest would be those without the card, who would be officially viewed with extra suspicion. The real ID act 2005 also introduced provision and appropriations that were to regulate the intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act.
For federal identification purposes, the ID card will consist of information such as name of the holder, holders’ sex /gender, official birth dates, license or identification number and official Signature of the holder. In addition they will also contain the holder’s photos and official physical address of the holder. (http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/03/national_id_car.html)
The Real ID Act of 2005 which is the B division of the federal emergency supplemental appropriations act for defense, global war on terror and tsunami relief of 2005 was enacted to create a de facto national identification card system. This will be created through standardization and verification procedures on the drivers’ license and to other identification cards to turn them into a national identification.
The Real ID Act introduced provision and appropriations that were to regulate the intelligence reform and terrorism preventions act. The act was intended to deter terrorism through waiving of laws that resects the idea of construction of physical barriers at the border , modernizing and tightening laws on application of asylum or exile status and deportation of non-immigrants and introduction of nationwide standards for state issued driving licenses and non-drivers identification cards. (http://www.aclu.org/privacy/gen/14898res20030908.html)
This act was signed into law by president Bush on May 11 2005, but a new provision was made on March 2, 2007 restricting the bill from being enforced until December 2007. The national conference on state legislatures estimated that the initial cost for implementing the law for the first five years will cost the states around eleven billion dollars. On the other side the department of homeland security estimates that the cost will be in range of 23 billion dollars within the first ten years. In 2006, 40 million dollars was allocated as start up costs but no other funding has been made. If the law is to be successful the cost of funding it, will be impacted on the citizens. (http://communities.justicetalking.org/forums/2/2650/ShowThread.aspx)
Many experts have argued that the Real ID Act 2005 will breach the privacy and security of its holders. The privacy act explains that the federal bank is responsibly for protection of personal information systems with data about its citizens, but the real id Act affects the privacy of an individual through collection, maintenance and dissemination of personal information by federal agencies.
The Real ID cards denoted the citizenship of the holders. they would cause discrimination against individuals who did not have the ID’s or those who chose not to carry them. Another negative effect of the real Id act is the fact that, electronic cards can easily be tampered with to give confidential information to unauthorized third parties there by putting the owners of the card at risk. The department of homeland security has suggested that the information be limited depending on the user or if not so then the information should be encrypted. This should be done to ensure protection of sensitive private information. The use of the Real ID does not mean that different states will be restricted from adopting or implementing their own systems of identification. (http://www.privacyinternational.org/issues/idcard/_index.html)
A national identification system will group United States citizens into two groups, the trusted guys and untrusted guys. Security experts have argued that having one ID card for all purposes decreases the security of its citizens because investing only in one card makes it easier for criminals to forge. This means that criminals especially terrorists would have access to personal data of trusted individuals and steal it because the data stored on the Real Ids will be accessible in all other states and involves a common machine readable technology. (Harper Jim. 2006. 96).
The real ID Act states that the licenses that will not be verified and standardize to meet the federal standards will not be used when boarding airlines, or satisfying any other federal use. This Act was sponsored by Rep. James sensenbremner after the September 11 attacks, who argued that the al- Qaida group used the freedom of movement to plan and attack the US. He therefore stated that this act would prevent illegal immigrants in the US from getting licenses and as a result prevent other occurrence of terrorism. (http://www.epic.org/privacy/id_cards/)
Americans have rejected the law because it only passed as an amendment bill and was therefore not debated well enough. The law enforces that the all states licenses and Ids must satisfy Federal requirements. This makes a driver’s license a national identification in the sense that citizens must use it in everything they do.
American citizens have rejected the idea of National IDs because they interfere with the tradition of privacy protection. The National IDs will create discrimination against Arab-Americans who are usually viewed as terrorists.
Experts in the United States have argued that Americans should reject the idea of having a national ID because it requires collecting, using and disseminating personal information to a large database. The national cards also require card readers, communication networks and policies to addresses the privacy and manageability of the personal information collected. Financial analysts have come to the conclusion that implementing the national identification system will cost 3 billions dollars to 5 billions dollars. Since the state cannot fund such a large amount, the burden will be imposed on the public. (http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/nationalidsystem.html)
The identification cards invade the private of the holders by identifying them when they do not want to be identified. They also reveal more information and activities about us than are required to be known. It makes it compulsory for citizens to participate by revealing their personal information and also by funding the implementation of the law.
Americans are made to believe that the national identification will promote security by fighting terrorism and preventing illegal immigrants form entering the states. However, Americans must realize that feeding our personal information into a common database will made it easier for criminals and terrorist to access and forge the information. This interferes with the traditions of privacy that Americans have experienced in the past. Experts have established that any form of card can be forged or even duplicated. This means that potential terrorist could apply for national identification cards using information stolen form the database. This will in effect reduce the security system in America. It would be impossible to recognize such form of theft and if recognized, those that identified it world be accused for imposing such forgery. (http://www.aclu.org/privacy/gen/14898res20030908.html)
The national identification system causes inconveniences in the individual’s lifestyle, because they require citizens to visit the government offices physically to prove their identity and have their pictures and fingerprints taken. The system would also need to be updated regularly in order to ensure that the information used on the card is valid and up to date. It also means that citizens must present their national Id so that they may receive certain services. People who lost their cards or forgot them would be denied services that require presentation of the national IDs. Forgetting the card would also lead to problem with the authorities if they decided to rely on them. (http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/03/national_id_car.html)
Americans should reject the use of ID cards because it increases police power and provides a route way for police abuse. The police department has been known to discriminate individuals depending on the kind of information set out on the cards. This makes people vulnerable to unfair judgment by the authority: Research has also shown that police are involved in juvenile and minority a beating that is also a form of child abuse. The police will also be required to detain forcefully anyone who fails to present their national ID cards. Detaining people who fail to produce ID cards gives the police the power to discriminate on who is targeted for the ID check up, though they are US citizens legally. The discrimination will depend on people walking at night, visiting certain areas in the state or behaving in undesired manner. Discrimination might also be based characteristics such as being homeless, black or youths or even on basis of religions. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/airportsecurity/idcards.html)
In case some one loses their national ID card, they will be denied certain services and their sense of identity will be lost. Before the card is replaced a lot of time is lost in renewing and processing the high security and high integrity card. Citizens have to bear with this because if a lower value card is issued it will pose threats to the security of the individuals through fraud and misuse. The long period of time taken to replace the card means that, individuals will be denied certain services and be viewed with suspicion and scrutiny. (Anderson Judith. 2006.76).
The national ID card system requires that personal data be stored in one common database. This will promote theft and corruption in institutions. Employees will be tempted to sell and trade information of certain individuals. Cases of abuse of computerized information have been on the increase in the United States and this has seen the dismissal of many staff in the banks.
The legislation of our states is not capable of protecting the accumulated personal data on the database system, and rather than promoting security the state, it will actually be creating loopholes in the security systems of their states. (http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/nationalidsystem.html)
Why National ID cards should be used in the US.
National ID cards with persons photograph and digitized and embedded thumbprints will come in handy in the prevention of terrorism. Carrying a national ID will prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country, as everyone will be required to present their ID’s at the airport and before crossing any state borders. This will prove that anyone in the US with an ID is legally there. Everyone on the soil of US will be issued with temporary ID’s to reduce suspicion. (Lutz James & Lutz Brenda. 2004. 39.)
Through the use of national ID’s it would be easier false identifications and impersonifiers. The state employees will be trained on how to detect fraudulers. The use of social security numbers makes it possible for anyone to monitor our activities and movements. This will in effect reduce the freedom of movement, security and privacy.
The use of national ID cards will eliminate the use of a number that can be used to track us down wherever we are. The national card will ensure evidence of legal residency to everyone who holds it and will be used as a qualification for identification for the elderly and the poor. It means that everyone will have the right to vote in US. (Watner Carl & Mc Elroy. 2003. 102.)
Technology in the US is highly advanced and can ensure safety of the holder’s information. There is no threat to invasion of the citizens’ privacy and also the personal database cannot be communicated to other computers.
Americans should accept the national ID card on the basis that the national ID does not have a number and that its not used to perform transactions with the government. The ID should only be requested for where our vehicles are involved. The ID card should also be issued free of charge and the government should not impose any extra cost or burden to the public. (Eaton Joseph. 2003. 124)
I believe that the use of National ID cards should be rejected because for one, it will not stop terrorism. Potential terrorists and criminals have their own legal and illegal ways of accessing government database and stealing personal documents. They have a way of forging birth certificates and can apply for governments ID’s successfully.
Creating national IDs that require the same information just like the one put on the passport makes it more of a passport than an ID. They would be used as internal passports that will reduce the freedom and privacy of legal citizens. The original purpose of the national ID will eventually be ignored just like the main purpose of the social security numbers was ignored. The government would now have more control over its citizens.
The national ID card system requires that a national database for all Americans be created, which would also require continuous updating to verify the information given. This kind of system might cause errors in the identification information leading to denial of services to the affected citizens. This kind of an error could also make people be fired or unemployed form their jobs due to accusations of providing false information.
Creating such a database means that almost all agencies will want to be linked to it, including employers, government agencies, private investigators, credit agencies and even our land lords. As a result it will cause immense erosion of our privacy
National ID cards will bring about discrimination to citizens who do not provide their ID cards on request. If one lacks the card they will be viewed with so much scrutiny and suspicion if even they are legal citizens of the United States. The police authority would also discriminate against workers who are foreign-looking especially Asians and Arab-Americans. Most of the Arabs in America are often suspected of being terrorists and if they lacked an ID card, then the authority would certainly forcefully abuse them. Other minority groups like the Asians, Latinos and even Caribbean’s will be exposed to various identity checks form the police, their employers and banks. This will expose them to frequent searches, detention and arrest if they do not carry their national ID cards. They will be constantly required to prove that they are legal immigrants or American citizens and this is humiliation to them.
However, i oppose the use of ID cards. American citizens must be allowed to debate on the issue and agree on the right thing to do. This is not a matter that a group of people can decide over a 30-minute session talk. If enacted it will affect, destruct and inconvenience the lives of many citizens.
Anderson Judith. Dealing with crime. Black Rabbit book 2006.76.
Bray llona. Becoming a US citizen. Nolo. 2006. 22.
Eaton Joseph. The privacy card. Rowman & Littlefield. 2003. 124
Harper Jim. Identity crisis. How identification is overused and misunderstood. Cato institute. 2006. 96.
Lutz James & Lutz Brenda. Global terrorism. Routledge 2004. 39.
Watner Carl & Mc Elroy. National identification systems. McFarland & company. 2003. 102.
National ID cards regulations issued. Retrieved on 25/10/07.http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/03/national_id_car.html.
Talking justice- national ID cards. Retrieved on 25/10/07 http://communities.justicetalking.org/forums/2/2650/ShowThread.aspx.
National ID cards and REAL ID act. Retrieved on 25/10/07. http://www.epic.org/privacy/id_cards/.
National identification systems. Retrieved on 25/10/07.http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/nationalidsystem.html
National ID cards. Retrieved on 25/10/07. http://www.privacyinternational.org/issues/idcard/_index.html
National ID card regulations. Retrieved on 25/10/07 http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/03/national_id_car.html.
National driver’s license. Retrieved on 25/10/07 http://www.dojgov.net/national_license-01.htm
Airport security: national ID cards. Retrieved on 25/10/07 http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/airportsecurity/idcards.html.
Problems with national ID cards. Retrieved on 25/10/07.http://www.aclu.org/privacy/gen/14898res20030908.html
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