New York Times

New York Times – Editorial Op-Ed: By William Safire free registration required Threat of National ID. The plastic card would not merely show a photograph, signature and address, as driver's licenses do. That's only the beginning. In time, and with exquisite refinements, the card would contain not only a fingerprint, description of DNA and the details of your eye's iris, but a host of other information about you.

Hospitals would say: How about a chip providing a complete medical history in case of emergencies? Merchants would add a chip for credit rating, bank accounts and product preferences, while divorced spouses would lobby for a rundown of net assets and yearly expenditures. Politicians would like to know voting records and political affiliation. Cops, of course, would insist on a record of arrests, speeding tickets, E-Z pass auto movements and links to suspicious Web sites and associates.

All this information and more is being collected already. With a national ID system, however, it can all be centered in a single dossier, even pressed on a single card — with a copy of that card in a national databank, supposedly confidential but available to any imaginative hacker.

What about us libertarian misfits who take the trouble to try to “opt out”? We will not be able to travel, or buy on credit, or participate in tomorrow's normal life. Soon enough, police as well as employers will consider those who resist full disclosure of their financial, academic, medical, religious, social and political affiliations to be suspect.

The universal use and likely abuse of the national ID — a discredit card — will trigger questions like: When did you begin subscribing to these publications and why were you visiting that spicy or seditious Web site? Why are you afraid to show us your papers on demand? Why are you paying cash? What do you have to hide? [Privacy Digest]

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