Essay National Identity Cards and Citizens' Right to Privacy

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The article, “National Identity Cards Strange Liberty, Banish Privacy” by Charles Levendosky, implies that Identity Cards give us a false sense of security. The system would not prevent terrorists from using fake documents to get a national identity card and all citizens’ private information would be shared with government agencies and commercial organizations, therefore all personal information can be easily accessed through a computer system. This would result in a surveillance society with many obstacles due to human errors and leaving citizens with no privacy and freedom to be themselves.

I agree with the author and I am against national ID cards primarily because they would violate citizens' right to privacy. It is acceptable to issue identity cards for specific purposes, like a driving license which is necessary and voluntary. Discrimination is also a problem when religious affiliation or ethnic background is required on ID cards which had been the case in Greece or in Malaysia where only Islam’s were required to disclose this information. Ethnic background, religion and political party should have no affiliation with the government. The same privacy is vital to victims of domestic violence, witnesses in criminal investigations and trials, and others, may not want their identity or locations to be widely known.

There are so many potential privacy violations with a national ID card program but the most important issue to address is how secure it the system and how do we identify all the failures of the system. The system will undoubtedly be exploited by people who can get legitimate cards in fraudulent names. For example, as stated in the article by Charles Levendosky, “And according to a (2001) story in the...

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...n would become a very valuable document which gives a greater incentive for criminals to find ways to forge them. If cards become widely used and widely trusted, then the rewards for anyone who can find a way to fake them are potentially huge. Governments do not have a monopoly upon electronic research and digital information can be hacked into and tampered with, so there can never be such a thing as a crime-proof card. No country has ever successfully produced a totally unforgeable ID card. Therefore, any increase in ID cards would create greater vulnerabilities to identity theft and fraud. “A national identity system is one more ill-conceived public policy that has been precipitated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 (2001). It won’t make us any safer, but it will surely strangle our sense of freedom”, as stated in the article by Charles Levendosky.

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