Just Another Piece Of Plastic Essay

1137 words - 5 pages

National ID cards are one of the popular subjects of debate today. While the debate began as early as 1981, in a Reagan Administration, national ID cards have only recently been seriously contemplated for use. They owe this revival in interest and call for implementation to the September 11th terrorist attacks on our country in 2001. Proponents of national ID cards assert that they would have prevented the 9/11 attacks and any that may come in the future. They also maintain that criminal acts such as fraud and identity theft would be drastically reduced and that racial profiling by law enforcement officials would be discouraged. However, opponents of national ID cards are skeptical of these claims, as they should be. There is more than sufficient evidence to show that any progress made by national ID cards would be heavily outweighed by the issues that would arise as a result of their use. History has proven that the government tends to abuse ID systems and databases during times of crises, and this would be no exception. Also, such a systems cost and its proneness to errors should be enough to deter from its use.
If a national ID card system was implemented, the government, and hackers for that matter, would have easy access to a dangerous amount of our personal information. “The information on these identity cards goes far beyond name, address, Social Security number, birth date, weight, height, hair and eye color. The proposal would include medical and disability information as well as encoded biometric identifiers like retinal scans and fingerprints” (Levendosky 22). With all of these features the government would have the capability to view our criminal history, where we have traveled, and, in certain cases, even the items we have bought. Once introduced, it is improbable that such a system would be restricted to its original purpose; this would enable for that information to be used in ways that could infringe upon our right to privacy. Levendosky, a Bill of Rights expert, explains that the “Social Security card was to have had limited use—to identify the taxpayer as a legitimate recipient of Social Security. Now our Social Security numbers appear on drivers' licenses and health insurance cards and are used as passwords for credit cards” (Levendosky 22). They are even tracked by credit card companies. Another example of the governmental abuse of ID systems occurred in early 1995. It was then that more than 500 Internal Revenue Service agents were caught illegally snooping into the tax records of thousands of Americans. The list goes on and on. Even in the unlikely case that the government obeyed its own restrictions hackers and ID thieves wouldn’t be quite so honorable.
The main problem with any ID system is that it requires the existence of a database. In this case it would have to be an immense database of private and sensitive information on every American—one widely and instantaneously accessible from airline check-in...

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