Officials to create national ID card

Officials to create national ID card

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior editor

Here it comes! The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators has announced it will create a national identification card.

The group is said to be working with the Justice Department and the General Services Administration to develop a system around a massive database that will include every citizen of this country.

In the past, it was not technically possible nor economically feasible to undertake such a thing. But times and technology have changed. It is possible today for faceless bureaucrats to develop a way to track and restrict public movements. The only thing the federal government lacked was a catalyst, an event that would create an immediate and focused security concern that would eclipse civil rights concerns. That came on Sept. 11.

The first calls for a national identification system came as the smoke was still rising from the World Trade Center. That resulted in a hearing last November before a House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Long Beach, California.

It uncovered sharply differing and often conflicting views of the purpose and capabilities of a proposed system. Some wanted only a better ID system with such abilities as retinal scans or facial recognition. Others wanted so-called “smart” cards tied to a database so each individual’s movements and history could be tracked.

Technology today would allow implanting microchips in individuals that would be a nearly complete dossier and could be scanned at airports or any other types of checkpoints.

The push to create a national ID card was partly prompted by the belief that such a system would have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks had it been in place. But those involved in the attacks were either recent visitors or students who would not have needed such cards. There also is the threat of “sleeper” agents who may have been here for years. They could legally get such cards.

Congress has directed the Department of Transportation to develop its own system.

Co President Bush, on the other hand, has

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said he doesn’t believe such an approach is needed.

Privacy advocates view the scheme with sharp dissent. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, commented: “Once the door opens a little bit, it’s going to be difficult to prevent others from pushing the door open further.”

The motor vehicle bureaucrats are asking for at least $70 million to implement their system. Spokesman Jason King said: “There’s no need to create a second national ID card. You already have one. We’re just talking about making it better and more secure.”

Rotenberg noted some potential risks with this idea.”The problem of incorporating, say, a digitized fingerprint is that it opens the door to a lot of machine-based identity collection checkpoints that right now don’t exist in the U.S.,” he said.

Some say if we must have such a card, it would be much better for the model to be designed and debated by the Congress instead of motor vehicle bureaucrats.

Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University, was a witness at the congressional hearing on a national ID card. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Turley said: “Before we take the first step toward a human license plate, we need to consider not just the dangers we are facing, but the ones we may create.”

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