Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Smart ID Card Fallacy

Proponents of a national Smart ID card that would hold everything from passport information to biometric data to credit card information are pushing for government action in support of the new technology. (InfoWorld: Smart ID card advocates call for government action). The main argument proponents use in advocating the card is improved protection against illegal aliens and terrorists. While certainly an argument most people would support, the reality is that Smart ID technology would not accomplish either.

What people seem to forget when making these arguments is that all of the terrorists that committed the atrocities on 9/11 were in the US legally. They did absolutely nothing illegal in their stay here up until the point where they hijacked four aircraft. Smart ID technology would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the events of September 11, 2001.

In a similar vein, the terrorists that committed atrocities in London on July 7 were also all in the UK legally. In fact, some of them were British citizens, and some had lived in the London area for almost a decade. Again, Smart ID technology would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the terror attacks in that city this summer.

If nothing else, the al Qaida operatives are quite adept at entering their target countries legally, establishing a high sense of legitimacy in their daily activities, and blending in very well with the general population. Right up until they commit acts of terror, these operatives do absolutely nothing to draw attention to themselves. The harsh reality is that Smart ID technology would only serve to bolster the legitimate image of future terrorists. It would make their job easier since we would be operating under a false sense of protection.

Similarly, illegal aliens would not at all be impacted by Smart ID technology. They already operate under the radar of the Social Security system - a national ID card that has been in effect for three quarters of a century. Many of them manage to procure drivers licenses and even credit cards, despite their illegal status. Circumventing the Smart ID technology would not prove overly problematic to those engaged in smuggling illegals across our southern border.

What Smart ID cards would do is increase the risk of identity theft. What it would do is further reduce individual privacy, all under the false premise of increased security. There is already far too much personal information digitized and stored electronically. The last thing we need is for all of our personal and financial information - complete with biometric data - to be stored in one convenient location for any two-bit hacker to access. We already make it far too easy for them to steal our identities. Let's not package everything together and hand it to them.


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