National ID Card
There has been much discussion over the issue of a national ID card. Can it guarantee national security? Can it even improve the current state of security in the US? Is implementation feasible? Is it an invasion of privacy? These are just a few of the questions that surround the issue of a national ID. The scene that the NID evokes in me is from the movies of the forties and fifties. The security officials from some eastern European country move from passenger to passenger in a train demanding “Papers please.” The US citizenry have never been subject to that kind of open scrutiny before and it is disturbing to contemplate the implementation of such a draconian system.
Consideration of a NID system deserves to be isolated (at least initially) from the emotive imagery that many critics would bring to bare. So the first question to tackle is that of the necessity to national security. What can an NID system do to protect the US from its enemies? It could be added to the screening process at the airports. Each passenger could be made to swipe his or her card through a card reader as the pass through security. In order to actually verify their identity passengers would have to have to be scanned by a biometric device; the data taken on site then being compared to recorded information. The question of the security of the card will be taken up later, but it is far from certain that the stored information could be made both secure and available in the nation’s airports.
Every US citizen would, presumably, posses a NID card, including those who work in sensitive places. The corruption of information on a single NID card would lower threshold of areas that defined as sensitive would fall below the ability of security forces to cope. Three years ago Golden Colorado had to abandon its water supply for several weeks. The lab that tested the city water supply detected radioactive contaminants. After two weeks without running water of any kind the city found out that a lab technician hadn’t properly washed the glassware before testing the drinking water sample. The tech. was careless, but what if the error was intentional? The same tech. could “miss read” the bacteria count in the sample and allow contaminated water to be pumped into homes. Under the current system the work to create an identity that would put a terrorist in place to be the careless tech. is not imposable but it takes considerable resources and time. Some of the 9-11 terrorists spent years building just such covers. With the NID system one card is all that is necessary. Corrupt a single card and your testing water in Golden CO.. A single peace of plastic puts you behind the wheel of a tanker hauling sulfuric acid.
The question of whether a card could be corrupted falls into the implementation category, which leads us back to travelers swiping their cards at airport security. For the comparison...