National Identity Cards
National Identity Cards
The issue regarding national identity cards has been talked about for more than 30 years. It is not new and debate and arguments have been going on for some time. And still, lawmakers, private organizations, and the general public still can not make a definite decision on whether a national identity system is good for the whole country or not.
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“An identification card is best conceived as a communications device that carries information from a person, through a card-issuing intermediary, to a verifier, and allows a person to be ‘known’ on a first encounter.” The purpose of an identification card is simple, which is to prove an identity of a person and provide more information other than a name. However, the simplicity of it is only applicable to small groups or large ones that can be easily controlled. It is also applicable when identification cards are not considered too valuable and will not be a source of violent activities.
The cause for the delay of making a decision and loss of interest of the general public to this issue is rooted mainly from concerns regarding privacy. This national identification system would jeopardize every person’s privacy, which has been enjoyed since the beginning of time, and would slowly increase government and business’ control over the general public. The government and other organizations, employers, and private parties would have more reasons to seek access to the private information of the country’s citizens, which would further invade the privacy of these people. This is a serious matter because everyone values their privacy and no one wants any individual to snoop on informations regarded as confidential. Also, the card can make a way to monitor every movement of each person.
However, some people’s views on the national identification system changed since the September 11, 2001 attack and the issue of a national identification system was renewed. Although there had been talks about the identification cards, there has been no official plans announced about it. It seems that these people believe that the solution to terrorism is a national identification system. They think that the whole idea of requiring Americans to have a national identity card would help but it is evident that it is not the answer to many of the country’s problems.
Another problem that comes with the national identification card system is the threat that it would cause “new forms of discrimination and harassment.” People without these identification cards would be considered as “foreign” and some employers may reject prospective employees looking for jobs just because they are “foreign.” Other instances where authorities are required to conduct an unnecessary search, which can lead to harassment, just because citizens do not have an identification card might occur.
Overall, a national identification card system has its pros and cons. Those who are for the implementation of this system may only have the best interest of the citizens of the country in mind. However, the issue of privacy is still the greatest concern to the majority of people. If lawmakers can not do anything about the privacy issue, the national identification system might just see its end.
 Barbara Dority, “Halt and Show Your Papers! Card – National Identity ID,” Humanist, 10 April 2008; available from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1374/is_2_62/ai_83794479, p.1 of 6.
 Jim Harper, Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood. (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 2006), 3.
 Dority, Halt and Show Your Papers! Card – National Identity ID, p.2 of 6.
 Ibid, 3.
 Ibid, 1.
 Elia Zureik and Mark B. Salter, Global Surveillance and Policing: Borders, Security, Identity (Oregon: Willan Publishing, 2005), 77.
 Dority, Halt and Show Your Papers! Card – National Identity ID, p.4 of 6.