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US Lawmakers Eyeing National ID Card 826

Posted by timothy
from the oh-wait-didn't-we-mention-this? dept.
According to Wired (and no big surprise, considering the practicalities of implementing massive changes in medical finance), US lawmakers "are proposing a national identification card, a 'fraud-proof' Social Security card required for lawful employment in the United States. The proposal comes as the Department of Homeland Security is moving toward nationalizing driver licenses."
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US Lawmakers Eyeing National ID Card

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:40PM (#31590484)

    I'm not sure why Slashdot is so afraid of this. You don't have a right to be anonymous to your employer. You don't have a right to avoid taxes. You just got the right to healthcare, but do you really want that going to illegal immigrants? We already drive around with standardized (yet customizable non-materially) license plates on our cars. You already need proof of government permission and proof somebody's going to pay if you hit something to drive a car. You aren't supposed to be able to get on a plane anonymously...

    Let's not think of the things we'd be able to get away with with a fake id... and start thinking how we can make sure somebody else can't fake their ID for our mutual protection.

    • by tthomas48 (180798) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:46PM (#31590598) Homepage

      "You just got the right to healthcare, but do you really want that going to illegal immigrants?"

      That's actually a bizarre statement. The options are:

      1) Illegal immigrants can pay for health care in the open market (potentially taxpayer subsidized).
      2) We can pay for illegal immigrants to go to hospitals as indigent care (definitely taxpayer subsidized).

      I don't really understand why people would go for #2. If I can choose 100% loss vs. even 95% loss, I'm going to go with the 95%.

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:51PM (#31590666)

        American health insurers make it very clear that the only service they'll provide for you in Canada is medical transport back to the USA. They won't pay the out-of-country rate for Canadian healthcare.

      • Therefore I refuse to hear it.

        (switches to MSNBC). Ahh yes. They are telling me that this National ID card is simply like a drivers' license, therefore it's a-okay. Nothing dangerous about a drivers license. (sigh). I love the calming lies of MSNBC flickering on my screen. It's just like when mom told me locking the windows would keep me safe from bad people, and they couldn't possibly get it.

        Haaa-uummmmmm.

        Arthur: I think that TV just sighed.
        Marvin: Ghastly, isn't it? All the channels have been progra

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151)

      The price of protecting exclusivity is restricting access to America. De-facto open borders mean the only way to deter invasion from the failed narco-states (which US policy helped wreck!) to our south is to deter employment of non-citizens.

      Americans indicate by their behaviors that they want a welfare state. Making that practical means restricting who gets the goodies, and pitting citizens against illegals is inevitable.

      As a citizen, I don't care about foreigners and favor chasing those who won't obey the

      • by squidfood (149212) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:06PM (#31590906)

        This being MY country and MY birthright, fuck them.

        So which boat did your ancestors come in on?

        • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:24PM (#31591166)
          To be fair, if his ancestors came on a boat, they probably immigrated legally. Yes, I know you're trying to point out that it is a country of immigrants, but frankly, if everyone who wanted to come to the U.S. did come to the U.S., the whole thing would fall apart. Over a hundred years ago, it was difficult to get here, so we didn't really need quotas; if you were able to make the trip, we had room. Even from Mexico it was hard; the north of the country is a desert, and before cars were available, that was a damn difficult trip. Nowadays, it's really easy to get here (particularly from Latin America); while we still have room, we can't take everyone at once. Acknowledging that we need to establish a system for limited immigration that can be absorbed without causing problems isn't purely xenophobic (even if that is the primary motivation for much of the anti-immigrant movement); if we don't enforce the rules of said system then there is no system, and we end up experiencing all the problems the system is supposed to mitigate. We already have an issue where low and unskilled work doesn't pay enough to support a family; fifty years ago it could (hell, one low skill job could support a family, nowadays two low skilled jobs often aren't enough). Some of that is due to business friendly politicians, some of it is due to competition from immigrants. If we only had legal immigrants competing for the jobs, wages would not have fallen as steeply, simply because there would be 10 million or so less workers available to do the work.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Requiem18th (742389)

            As a Mexican, I'm not so much worried about the flow of illegal emigrants to the US as I'm worried about the flow of US weapons to Mexico (we have gun control you know?). What I mean is, you could do much more for the immigration problems of your country if you took as much care about what goes out of your country as you care about what goes into it.

            Not that you and me have much say in this, the can of worms is already open.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              As an American, I'm worried about the flow of Mexican narcotics such as methamphetamine to America (we have drug control you know?). What I mean is, your government, military, and police are corrupt and controlled by drug cartels. If as a country you decided to take car of your internal problems, then we would all be better off.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by theaveng (1243528)

          The country was empty when my ancestors arrived with only 20 states in existence.

          Now it's full. In fact I dare say it's overpopulated, since we're wallowing in our own pollution. When oil rises above $200 a barrel in the 2020s, making food scarce and energy expensive, we won't be able to sustain our 310 million persons. We should be seeking to SHRINK the population (block immigration) not increase it. (Same applies to the EU.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure why Slashdot is so afraid of this. You don't have a right to be anonymous to your employer. You don't have a right to avoid taxes. You just got the right to healthcare, but do you really want that going to illegal immigrants?

      Why? Because we've already gone through this with the social security number, which was promised to be only used to administer social security benefits, and is now used for everything.

      We don't want any more stinking ID!!!

      • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:24PM (#31591170)

        Why? Because we've already gone through this with the social security number, which was promised to be only used to administer social security benefits, and is now used for everything.

        True enough. As far as I can tell, though, I have yet to be seriously harmed by my SSN. The data security provisions of my bank might be another matter, but my SSN is no more harmful to me than my name, my phone number, my dedicated IP address, or the primary keys assigned to me in any of hundreds of databases. I'm certainly not going to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking, "Oh shit! I've been assigned another number!"

        We don't want any more stinking ID!!!

        Meh. Doesn't even rank in the top hundred things that worry me about the government. Any number of both free and unfree countries have such things, and like gun ownership, to which the same applies, there's not much correlation between that and the local degree of personal freedom. And frankly, I'd rather not have my tax dollars going to paying for the errors and duplication of effort that come from not having a single, reliable personal ID.

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:41PM (#31592070)

          And frankly, I'd rather not have my tax dollars going to paying for the errors and duplication of effort that come from not having a single, reliable personal ID.

          So, you would rather have your tax dollars paying for the errors and bad assumoptions that come from having a single overly trusted id instead.

          Life is never so simple as you appear to believe. There will never be such a thing as a "single, reliable personal ID" - for a whole host of reasons. Chief among them is that having just one ID is like having one big lock between the fraudsters and piles of money. Figure out how to forge that ID that everyone thinks is reliable and BAM they are in the promised land of fraud.

          That duplication of effort you don't like? That's security and efficiency. Having application-specific IDs makes the system more secure because (a) a lot less people are going to be trying to forge each one - think 50 different driver's licenses versus one, that's 50 times the expertise required from the same number of forgers. (b) requiring multiple ids for certain high-value authentications makes those forgeries even harder while low value authentications don't need some uber-id, they just need to provide a reasonable level of confidence.

          And don't forget (c) - unintended consequences - one id to rule them all means one key for every single database. That puts a handle on your entire life that anyone with malicious intent can grab ahold of and yank on. There is no need for me to have the same identity at the bank, at the grocery where I use a credit card, at the DMV, at my job, at the nighclub, etc. All of those places just need to authenticate me in their limited domain - the bank needs to know that I am the same person taking money out who puts money in, the grocery store just needs to know that I am the authorized user of my credit card, the DMV just needs to know that I am qualified to drive with no legal sanctions against it, my job only needs to know that I'm the same guy they interviewed, the nightclub only needs to know that I'm of legal age to drink alcohol and that they haven't kicked me out in the past, etc.

          None of those organizations need to know what the other organization knows about me. But put everything under one number and you can count on them either sharing that information for their profit - not yours or my benefit - at the very least boxing all the info up in a database that they sell access to ala credit reporting agencies gone wild. And this isn't some chicken-little thing - DMVs have routinely sold their databases to companies who resell it to anyone willing to pay. That's despite cases like "My Sister Sam" where an actress had a stalker who pulled her DMV info to find her house, walked up to her door and shot her in the face, killing her dead. As it is today, any PI or other motivated individual can pull up a buttload of personal information on you for a couple of hundred dollars.

          The solution isn't some gargantuan mess of privacy laws either - laws that will require tons of overhead for compliance, and can easily be changed at the whim of a panicked congress or just outright ignored by criminals. The solution is to stop trying to centralize identity. Leave it the fuck alone. Let each group do what it needs to do authentication the people it needs to authenticate, and no more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nido (102070)

      You don't have a right to avoid taxes.

      Actually, you (and everyone else, for that matter) has the right and the responsibility to avoid paying as many taxes as you can. Tax evasion is another matter, however.

      Wikipedia has an article:

      Tax avoidance is the legal utilization of the tax regime to one's own advantage, to reduce the amount of tax that is payable by means that are within the law. By contrast, tax evasion is the general term for efforts to not pay taxes by illegal means. The term tax mitigation is a synonym for tax avoidance. Its origina

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by medge_42 (173874)

      I've had this talk with a number of people. They argue that if you have nothing to hide why hide?
      Well, what if they make something illegal that is a basic right.
      What if alcohol was illegal?
      What if being homosexual was illegal?
      What if being black meant you were not allowed to vote?
      What if being female meant you were not allowed to vote?
      But your right, it's not like the US has a precedent of have laws like that.

      All crimes are committed by the living, therefore living is a crime (Judge Death, 2000AD)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      It depends on what they mean. If you need ID to open a bank account then fair enough. If you need ID to walk down the street or breathe the air then no thanks.

    • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:08PM (#31590934) Homepage Journal

      The basic problem with this and many similar measures is not that people disagree with the *intent* of the changes, they disagree that there is a connection between the intent and the action.

      Having IDs which are harder to fake is probably a good thing. Fake IDs are the source of much fraud, and fraud is a big problem. Let's do something about it.

      Now ask yourself the following question: Would you support this measure if it cost money and made IDs easier to fake?

      See Bruce Schneier [schneier.com] for a thoughtful analysis.

      Here, let me quote from that article:

      [The National ID card system] won't work. It won't make us more secure.

      In fact, everything I've learned about security over the last 20 years tells me that once it is put in place, a national ID card program will actually make us less secure.

      Whenever anything like this comes up we keep asking the wrong questions. "We should ban liquids to make us safer", "we need to take naked pictures of all airline passengers to make us safe", "we should let border guards rifle through everyone's PCs to make us safe".

      Everyone wants to be safe, there's absolutely no doubt about that, we should be in favor of all these measures.

      But do you support expensive naked-photo camera systems if they make us *less* safe? Again, thoughtful commentary from people who have to actually make a living at this sort of thing is instructive.

      Stop distracting us with the intent and convince us of the effectiveness.

    • by copponex (13876) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:16PM (#31591054) Homepage

      It's the same reason militia groups train in the woods. They like to pretend that they could defend themselves against the United States Armed Forces. It's simply a distraction against the things that really protect freedom, like voting, community organizations, or being an active citizen in the Athenian sense.

      The standing army is used for foreign coup d'etats instead of civil wars on home soil. They learned a long time ago that giving you the "choice" of entertainment, fast food joints, cars, and clothes is far more effective distraction from participatory democracy than direct government violence.

      In the fantasized bleak future, the government wins because they have a national ID card. In reality, you are already owned by your debt. You either plead fealty to the system in exchange for access to material goods, and live and die by your credit report, or you suffer the consequences.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)

      This reminds me of back when I was in the environmental non-profit world about fifteen years ago. Greenpeace was on the warpath about chlorine and was making noises about demanding that chlorine be banned. Some of the young paladins on staff mention it one day to the boss, who happened to have a PhD in engineering. The boss pointed out that industry uses chlorine because it's chemically reactive. If we banned chlorine, they'd find something else that was reactive to take its place. In all probability th

  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:41PM (#31590518) Homepage
    The awesome part about this is that it ought to cause the Tea Party types to blow a gasket. On one hand, you have the federal government making ID's that will make it tougher for undocumented aliens to get work, so finally all of those high-flight jobs mowing lawns and manning the grill at fast food restaurants will be safe for Real Americans(tm). On the other hand, you have the federal government making ID's that will allow them to do... Well, whatever wacky-ass conspiricy stuff the federal government supposedly does with ID's -- I'll have to wait for Glenn Beck to tell me exactly why it'll be such a problem, but I'm sure it will be. In reality, however, the big losers in any sort of forgery-proof national ID situation are going to tomorrow's 19 year-olds who won't be able to get into the bar with their "Hawaii driver's license" anymore. So really, this program only hurts the children.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Skyshadow (508) *
      Oh, and the other loser? The formatting on my posts.

      Eh, whitespace is overrated anyhow.
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:43PM (#31590558)

      Yeah... hopefully Glenn Beck will get caught in an infinite loop of hating government and love of homeland security which will cause him to crash and need a reboot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by isotope23 (210590)

      Yeah, everything is all good.

      Until they can REVOKE your right to work because of your political beliefs or associations...

      Party on!

  • To replace the fucked up SSN system with something that really works. Now if only they can get it right this time and make this a secure, government only thing.
    • As much as us Americans hate being reduced to a number... something's got to be the primary key in the database records government and business keep about us.

  • Yeah no problem. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:45PM (#31590582)

    Nice national ID cards for our safety and you know just to be on the safe side we need a DNA database too, to prevent people from misusing this program...and hey we need to start monitoring your internet usage to prevent people from pretending to be you and setting up appoitments or chaning your information.

    Yeah its nothing to be worried about, Im sure it will be all OK.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Planesdragon (210349)

      Yeah its nothing to be worried about, Im sure it will be all OK.

      Actually, yeah.

      If our government is not a tyranny, we have nothing to fear from them watching us.

      If our government is a tyranny, they will watch us whether fear them or not.

      So, nothing to worry about. Unless you have a quantum government, that can shift from non-tyranny to tyranny... but that NEVER happens. (Nope, never. Hitler wasn't elected, Russia wasn't mostly democratic before the Soviets siezed power, post-roman city-states never had the sheriff decided they were kings...)

  • I know the idea of a national ID is scary in some ways, but the idea of federal standards for driving certification kind of appeals to me. I mean, they couldn't be more lax than they are here in CA (pass the written, pass the behind-the-wheel, see you in 50 years). From a driving safety standpoint, I wouldn't mind jumping through extra hoops to make sure the other people on the road are better trained.
  • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:53PM (#31590702)
    It's good we're finally going to get a proper social security card that is only used for the purpose of social security, and not as a general identification number that's treated as secret yet widely shared. No more will a social security card be used for other purposes.
  • Fraud proof? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <.ku.oc.nez. .ta. .senoj.selig.> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:03PM (#31590842)

    There's no such thing as fraud proof. Humans are involved in the process and humans are corruptible.

    In fact, fraud proof makes it difficult to prove someone stole your identity if they some how manage to fraudulently apply for ID in your name.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:14PM (#31591014)

    I'll be glad when Obama is finally inaugurated!

  • by starseeker (141897) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:25PM (#31591188) Homepage

    As the technology to collect and manage information becomes ever more inexpensive, it becomes more and more of an effort to AVOID having data available to the government in such a way that it can be abused. When things get to the point where the drivers-license level data for every person in the USA can be causally tossed onto a thumb drive and taken to the next meeting, it becomes VERY hard to NOT use that data.

    Well intentioned uses of such data abound, and some will be not only well intentioned but actually helpful (it is quite probable, for example, that correct use of a national DNA database WOULD allow many crimes to be solved that are not currently solved, just as fingerprint databases have been so useful.) Abuse of this data (particularly if the correctness of the data is trusted too much) by those in power is the counterpoint, and that is equally real (and equally scary). The problem is, the easier it gets to collect data the harder it is to be SURE it's thrown away if its intended to be thrown away. From some of the stores Slashdot has run about Britain, once they get ahold of your DNA they hang onto it, period. From their point of view, it might be useful in the future and its harmless sitting there in a database if its never used. If the agents of the system and those making the laws could be fully trusted, this might even be true. The problem is neither requirement holds. Law enforcement isn't perfect, and laws aren't either.

    The balance of society is between empowering enforcers of the law to catch criminals and limiting the damage they can do when those enforcers go astray. My guess is given technological trends, the balance in the information game is going to have to shift from restriction of available information to stronger punishment for misuse and weaker assumptions about the automatic correctness of any personal info database. It's going to become too easy to collect too much information, and once collected it's very hard to uncollect it. Eventually, things will reach the point where a desire to NOT have your information on record will be an automatic flag, kinda like how the fuzzy areas on Google Maps are an automatic flag of "hey, there might be something interesting there." No idea were all this will lead, but I have a feeling technology will compel us to find out.

    One though that might be worth thinking about - if there has to be a national database of all this stuff, have it widely distributed and copied at many locations, so that it's extremely difficult to push a universal change through any mechanism except one that makes records of the change (sort of a subversion database for law enforcement records - no anonymous changes and every change logged, as well as all historical database states being preserved. If records are ever changed erroneously, make it extremely difficult to do this without it being clear WHO did it)

  • "no surprise"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lemming Mark (849014) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:31PM (#31591272) Homepage

    No surprise they're considering this given the current social and political climate, maybe. And perhaps the healthcare bill looks like an expedient motivator for it. I can't see the argument that the heathcare bill is responsible for ID cards, though. The UK has had a functional National Health Service for ages (the bill originally came into force in 1948) and hasn't needed ID cards to facilitate it. I understand that the new US healthcare proposals are substantially different but even so, surely private medical insurance has successfully been managed without ID cards for years - you still need to know who you're treating, why can't similar techniques work? I'm skeptical of the link here ...

  • by TaleSpinner (96034) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @08:12PM (#31591780)

    ...is more government power. Once the national ID is in place it will be expanded. First ID, then driver's license, then credit card, then key card, and so on, and it will not be long before the United States government has a record of everything you buy, every place you enter or leave, every place you can enter, and, eventually, everything you do or say. This is not a slippery slope argument because we are already far down that slippery slope sliding on our asses at bewildering speed to the rocks at the bottom. Picture yourself living in a world where everything you do or say or possibly, not too long hence, even think, is being continuously monitored by the almighty government. This isn't just a conspiracy theory any more. It's a policy. A $500 ticket every time your car drifts a couple of miles an hour over the speed limit, spot checks scanning your (effectively naked) body for weapons or contraband, not just at airports but lots of other places that "need security", the government monitoring your fat intake, your cholesterol level, how well your kidneys function, how much nicotine is in your blood. Don't think so? Socialized medicine is all the excuse needed to directly regulate everything you eat, everything you drink, every product you ingest, rub on, carry.

    We live in a country with literally millions of pages of laws, rules, regulations, and requirements that apply to every citizen. Now picture what it will be like when the government is finally able to completely enforce every single tiny, seemingly inconsequential rule, law, regulation, or requirement that's on the books. Tell me how anyone will be able to get through a day without being cited for multiple violations of laws that you can't even know exist because no one can read that much material.

    I'm sorry. That's not a free country. That's not America. That's not what our forefathers wanted to leave for their posterity. And it's no place I want to live. So where will we be able to go, those of us who still want freedom or privacy or the right to make decisions for ourselves? Why do any of you even want to live in such a country? Make no mistake. That is where Obama is going to end us up. If he's elected to a second term, you will see all of the above put into place.

    And Congress did not "give us" the right to medical care. Rights are intrinsic to each and every person, they cannot be granted and when they are taken away there is tyranny. Rights are negative things, we need them so we can stop other people from doing things to us that we don't like. When you turn a right around and make it a positive thing, like the "right of medical care" then you also put into place a requirement of service from someone else to implement that right. You're "right" then enslaves that person. That's not freedom. And that's a fact.

  • by kenh (9056) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @10:50PM (#31593214) Homepage Journal

    I can't believe those intrusive, brain-dead republicans, led by Karl Rove and his minions want to roll out a national ID card, just another intrusion into our privacy, things will be so different when Obama gets in office, that's for sure!

    Wait, what?

    Oh crap... Never mind.

  • by jdogalt (961241) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @12:10AM (#31593770) Journal

    I stopped reading at 'fraud proof'. If it's gonna happen, it'll happen. But 'fraud proof' is a joke.

    -SonicDawg

  • by JeffTL (667728) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @12:36AM (#31593978)

    ...is a Passport Card [state.gov] -- basically a secure national ID issued by the Department of State ($45 new, $35 renew for non-passport holders, $20 for passport holders, lasts 10 years). Over a million Americans, including myself, carry one -- that's more than the population of the Omaha metro area. It's for car, train, bus, and boat travel within North America, but can also be used as a single identification for getting a job (along with, if I recall, the standard ICAO-compliant passport and the green card), and is recognized by the TSA (for domestic air travel), liquor store, and just about anyone else who needs ID. The RFID chip just has a database pointer, which differs from the card number if memory serves, but it comes with a tin foil hat just in case.

    What this idea amounts to is transferring or cloning the passport card program into Social Security or Homeland Security.

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