27 Feb 2013

National ID Card Pros And Cons

1 Comment Featured Articles, ID Cards, Uncategorized

I was asked by a very concerned lady about a month ago why an officer stopping her for a traffic violation, wanted the social security number. She said it made her uncomfortable and initially refused to give that information.

Fast forward to last week. Same lady reports she was a victim of fraud. Guess what happened? Yep, gave her coveted social security number to some voice on the other end of a phone. Folks I’m not making this up.

When I was asked by The Badge Guys to join the conversation about a National I.D., I had to share the irony. To follow up, we took precautions minimizing her risk.

IS THERE A CASE FOR NATIONAL ID CARDS?

There is a resounding “yes” for a national ID card. Ok, maybe not resounding, but I will take a look at it from two perspectives supporting the proposition. The first is that immediately following September 11, 2001, the Pew Research Center conducted a national survey. Nearly 70% of Americans felt strongly in support of a national ID.

Unfortunately, in the weeks it took many people to stop singing God Bless America, those same supporters fell to 56%. We progressively allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security.

The second is that we are a culture freely giving away our most personal information to banks, online medical assessments and social media “relationships.”

I read that less than one year after 9/11 many media networks stopped showing video of the dear souls falling from the Towers because it made people angry. Really? We should stay angry and aware. Again, we are lulled into believing our individual rights outweigh the saving of lives and deterring destructive actions.

I’m not a “Big Brother” supporter, but I do support standardization of identification systems. In our 50 states, we have 50 different driver’s licenses types, styles, colors and data capture processes. Is that designed for efficiency, or just for confusing the bouncer at the local college bar?

We have a national ID system, and it is the driver’s license. It just lacks standardization. Also, driving is a privilege, and not a right. You are granted that privilege by possessing what? A standard identification.

Want to get into that college bar? It also takes a standardized identification card. Got a flight to catch? Better have that standardized identification card ready. Proving your identification, registration, or even that you are still alive, used to be required prior to voting. Yes, that also required ID.

Back to being serious, and I was; a national ID card is required for removing the guesswork out of traffic stops, airport terminal entries, board crossings, identity theft, fraud, and protected facility access (TWIC). The last serious efforts for passing the reform was in 2005 with the REAL ID Act.

Although breezing through Congress, the anticipated costs of implementation ($23 billion) quickly derailed the progress. How much are those Twin Towers costing our country? Don’t think a standardized ID card would have aided in detecting the terrorist?

Several of the hijackers secured actual driver’s licenses with fraudulent documentation leading up to the attack. Would a national ID have stopped this? Not directly, but having the flight school training, traffic stops by law enforcement and any other significant interaction with these cowards would have made prancing through Logan International a bit less unencumbered.

Information is only as useful as applying its intended purpose. Pretending we possess some mystical, seamlessly integrated intelligence system is naive. Law enforcement does not know if the guy from the neighboring county has active warrants, do you really believe the absence of foreign terrorist attacks is due to a renewed sense of cooperation?

Records management systems are as disjointed today as they were on September 10, 2001. The National ID will bring the numerous variations of identifications into a singularly focused and uniform system of verification. This applies to the deceased voter in Philadelphia, the foreign flight student in Florida and yes, the “beer-pong” champion college student in California.

 DO WE FOLLOW OTHERS INTRODUCING NATIONAL ID CARDS

Other nations are either considering or have implemented a national ID standard. Privacy International, a British watchdog group estimates over 100 countries use national ID systems. Denmark actually issues numbers at birth, and continues accumulating personal data during the course of a lifetime.

European countries like France and Italy adopted this practice and do not appear to suffer from the “invasion” of privacy. There are examples worth noting about national IDs used to facilitate established practices of racial or ethnic oppression.

South Africa’s Apartheid era used pass books dictating where blacks were allowed to travel. Post-9/11 survey by Time/CNN showed Americans supporting the systematic stop and identification of Arab-Americans. These are examples of how not to use the ID, thoughtful planning and applications avoids this.

 

HELP FIGHTING CRIME OR INFRINGING ON CIVIL LIBERTIES

I read where an ACLU representative equated resistance to a national ID to a human rights notion. She said that in the most literal sense, you have the right to be left alone. Well, if you fancy traveling by plane, train, or automobile, being “left alone” isn’t a reality.

Attempts to argue the privacy invasion factor are made by the same people applying to credit cards for extra airline miles, using PayPal for E-bay purchases and paying bills on line. Not mentioning they are Tweeting, Facebooking and Pintresting their every move with geotagging information.

The precious low interest credit cards collecting in your wallets link to a database much more powerful and personally revealing than any current or proposed national information capture system.

Whether you paid for porn on the web or rented that out-of-town room for “business,” its recorded on your card. I almost forgot about those smartphones broadcasting to the globe where you are and what you are up to. No, people are not adverse to giving up their individual information freedoms.

They must be assured that some security guard granted accesses does not spend the late-night shift surfing the database for hot pictures of those same girls now banned from the college bar because they don’t have credible national ID cards.

What do you think?

About

I am a native of south Louisiana’s Cajun Country and am currently serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Thibodaux, Louisiana. I spent twenty-one years with the CALEA accredited Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office allowing me the opportunity to serve in various capacities including 12 years narcotics, 16 years SWAT as well as Divisional Commands over Investigations, Special Services, and Patrol. During these years, I earned a Master of Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Urban Studies (Anthropology). I am fortunate to continue my passion for education by teaching college courses and contributing my expertise in data-driven approaches to crime and traffic safety at national conferences and workshops sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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One Response to “National ID Card Pros And Cons”

  1. Reply Juli says:

    Excellent reminder of how people are so complacent after 9/11, including some in our government! :)

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