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OPINION: The Case for a National ID Card

by: - May 9, 2018
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by: Elijah Thomas

There is always a margin of error with any identification card process, be it a national ID card, driver’s license, passport, or visa. All these forms of identification are venerable to errors, but the benefits for their uses outweigh the few negative implications or glitches that may occur. We can learn a lot about an individual from information collected from various applications filled out over time.

Usually, information is gathered via the most common keys: first and last name, and here lies the rub. There may be other people with the same first and last name (title/surname) as yours, not necessarily living in the same geographical location.

Likewise, there may be lots of variations to your first name and last name; therefore, the use of the first name and last name is not a proper standard key for information collection. However, if everyone had a unique identification number, that single number could theoretically be used every time an individual applies for relevant documentation, e.g., driver’s license, passport, a government-issued id, voters registration card, and the list goes on.

All records for that one person could be collected in a massive database, creating an electronic dossier documenting that person’s life, similar to how Europe, North America and the rest of the world store personal data.

Here are some of the benefits of the adoption of a National ID Card:

1. A national ID card would be more reliable than existing forms of identification. Social Security cards, driver’s license, and passports are easy to duplicate; whereas, a national ID card could incorporate a photograph as well a fingerprint or other biometric data that is almost impossible to replicate.

2. A national ID card would reduce crime. Right now, with the increase in crime, criminals can mask their true identity. A tamper-proof national ID card would allow police to positively identify criminals upon arrest, whether for a misdemeanor or major offense, by doing an ID -to-databank photo or fingerprint search.

3. A national ID card could reduce illegal immigration. With the influx of people from all over the Caribbean, a national ID card will allow the government to differentiate between citizens and foreigners, thus mandating foreigners to show some form of ID when they apply for a job.

4. National ID cards do not undermine the democratic process. Many democratic countries already use national ID cards, including France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain.

Opponents reasons against a national ID card range from ambiguity to assumptions.

1. Driver’s license, passports, and voter registration cards are supposed to be used to identify the bearer of the card. However, there are criminals out there who will create a fake ID for themselves or others – something the system cannot control immediately. These incidents are few and happen when the system is compromised by a hacker, a forger, an insider, or when a person with influence is involved.

2. All things considered, it is nearly impossible to create a biometric-based national identification card system that is 100 percent accurate and tamper-proof. All known identification systems suffer from false positives; in other words, the person displayed on the picture ID does not match the person carded. Also, there are some brilliant hackers out there who can beat the system.

3. Some say that a national ID card makes it easier for the government agencies to perform data mining on the activities of its citizens. I know there is a lot of talk about the present government being a dictatorship, so some may view national ID cards as a way of the government monitoring the activities of its citizens, so that they may not participate in the national ID cards program. Some also insist on a separate voters ID card.

4. There is no evidence that a national ID card will increase voter participation or be the determining factor for the outcome of an election. It just means that there is more information about your uses and preferences stored in some database.

5. Some believe that the government can create inaccurate files on individuals and those files can prevent someone from voting or from obtaining a driver’s license, or hinder someone from getting a visa to a foreign country. That is an assumption, and not based on facts.

In conclusion, the purpose of this essay is to point out the advantages and perceived disadvantages of a national ID card, versus creating separate IDs for each agency. Instead of carrying five different cards, why not have just one card that can be used at multiple agencies. We all know that no system is bulletproof; they are all susceptible to errors – human or mechanical. Why not allow the government to reduce its costs – and yours, too – by producing only one tamper-resistant ID card, and put this story to rest.

Works Cited: Ethics for the information age, 7th Edition, pgs 299-301, Michael J. Quinn, 2011