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January 27, 2005

National ID Cards

A lot of people I respect a great deal are against a national ID card. Which makes sense from a certain perspective, but my question is: What's the big deal?

You think we don't have a national identification system already? Think again. Its very easy for someone with the right resources and clearances to take your social security number and find out your credit rating, your address history, what vehicles you have registered to you, who lives with you, what sort of professional licenses you hold, etc. Obviously this information isn't available to everyone. Some of it requires a signed release from the subject of the search, but the point is that we already have a de-facto national identifier in the social security number. What's wrong with taking that concept and making it official?

And it does have some very specific uses. For one, it makes people easier to find. Maybe that doesn't seem like such an important thing to you, but for a landlord looking for a tenant who skipped town on three months worth of rent or a private individual trying to run down the guy who vandalized his car for the purposes of a small claims lawsuit its a very important thing. These sort of people can't afford lengthy investigations into locating people, so a national identifier makes it easier. There are other benefits too, like eliminating a lot of identity fraud and removing an employer's excuse for not verifying the citizenship of a new employee.

The opponents of the national ID tell chilling stories about creeping government control and "Big Brother," but would a national ID really allow the government to do something they couldn't already be doing?

Personally I'm of the opinion that a national ID's benefits far outweigh the negatives, but maybe there's something to this issue I'm not understanding.

[Cross-posted at Say Anything]


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posted by Ace at 12:03 PM

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