Thursday, September 21, 2006

National ID card: an idea whose time has come

I must second Kevin Drum on his motion to have a national ID card provided for free to all Americans. Having 50 different driver's licenses is just ridiculous from a security standpoint. And if everyone had a photo ID, all of these voter fraud vs. disenfranchisement arguments could go away. (Or the Republican "supress the minority vote" stance would be revealed for what it is.)

I'm not sure why people object to this ID card so much. If people are so concerned about the government intruding on their lives, it seems like the first thing to do is get rid of the Bush administration. Yes, an ID card may make you easier to track or something, but that's small potatoes compared to the notion that you can be declared an "enemy combatant" and held indefinitely without trial and subjected to "alternative interrogation techniques" (i.e. torture).

4 Comments:

Blogger Miguel said...

As far as I can tell, national ID is being implemented right now under the Real ID act, which requires that drivers licences and state issued IDs have standardized RFID chips installed. It's not going to be issued to every citizen freely, probably because a significant number of the people without ID cards would become violent if government trucks arrived to give them their papers. I don't think there's really anything good about any of this - having your licence broadcast your personal information at all times is horrible from a security standpoint.

The implementaion you're suggesting here isn't a lot better, I'd say: here's a succinct article arguing against the usefulness of such a card (by Bruce Schneier, who invented the card deck encryption system used in Cryptonomicon, among many other things). The benefits listed (better security than 50 different cards and more ease of identification at voting booths) don't even seem comparable to the costs.

On a side note, you posted about the easily hackable computers used to count votes a few weeks ago. Don't you think the National ID/ voting card would increase the importance of these machines?

12:36 AM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Tell me Zach, what happens when the next unscrupulous politician comes to power and has learned from the Bush administration's mistakes to be a better oppressor? If we only focus on symptoms, instead of causes, we'll never escape this bottomless pit of deception long imposed upon us all.

We must think outside of the box created by money, religion, and politics for truly wise and reliable solutions to humanity's seemingly neverending problems. Simply applying technology to the symptoms of an inherently flawed system is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Here is Wisdom

12:55 AM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Hey Miguel, thanks for joining the discussion. I won't be able to reply in full to your comment, as my lap is full of baby. But yes, as I look into the details, the security benefits wouldn't be that much better than our current medly of documentation.

And I agree it would probably be impossible to force everyone to have one of these cards, because of the paranoid folk who think this would be some form of coercion.

Of course, given the current turn of our government re: torture and civil rights, the paranoid may have a point. I think their energies would be better directed into political action than stocking up on ammo (face it: you're not going to out gun the government), but

It just seems to me that a US citizen should be able to obtain a document for free that says "I am a citizen and I can vote". Unlike driving or renting at Blockbuster, voting is a right, not a privilidge.

4:24 AM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Well, seven star hand, you are proposing a very radical solution. Getting beyond money, religion, and politics would require a complete turn-around in how we all think. I would be very skeptical of such a large scale revolution. I am a reformer rather than a radical.

I agree that we need to be ready for a president who combines Bush's desire for secrecy, control, and exploitation with greater intelligence and political savvy.

4:29 AM, September 28, 2006  

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