Wednesday, March 13, 2002

20 Questions to Ask National ID Supporters

Here are some questions to ask supporters of a modern "enhanced"
ID system for the United States.

1. Under your system, can one's ID fail online verification for any reasons other than authentication failure (ID is not in the database or biometrics don't match) or expiration? Can a valid ID be cancelled or any reason (beyond expiration)?

2. Does your ID system have protections to prevent legislators and bureaucrats from adding other conditions to ID use? For example blocking ID authentication for failure to pay fines, failure to pay taxes, criminal arrest or conviction, etc.? The drivers licence system currently allows suspension for many such acts or omissions.

3. Will your ID system supply risk assessment services in addition to ID verification services. That is, will it provide a "credit score", "fraud score" or "criminal risk score" in addition to ID. What information beyond ID validity will the system supply to users.

4. If your system supplies risk assessment services, will it accept foreign government criminal, civil, or administrative records and apply them to the IDs of US citizens? If so, how can these records be challenged, how do you assure that the alleged acts would be crimes or civil wrongs if committed in the US (e.g. hate speech), and how do you deal with differing due process standards in different nations?

5. Should government subsidize wealthy financial corporations by supplying them with free or low-cost ID authentication and risk assessment services?

6. How can people challenge the accuracy of these assessments?

7. Will one's ID be the sole ID accepted for any goods or services? If so, which goods or services?

8. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that anonymity and refusal to identify oneself to the police are constitutionally protected actions. Do you favor a constitutional amendment to reverse these court decisions?

9. Four million US citizens are not residents of the US. Since they cannot be denied entry to the US and do not require visas to enter the US, what ID are they supposed to use in the US? They currently use a US passport, a foreign drivers license, and domestic or foreign credit cards.

10. Do you favor the end to the visa waiver program which allows citizens of many OECD countries to enter the US without visas? If so, what ID are they supposed to use in the US? They currently use a foreign passport, a foreign drivers license, and domestic or foreign credit cards.

11. Do you favor the abrogation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other treaties which allow citizens of other North American countries and some Caribbean countries to enter the US without passports or visas? If so, what ID are they supposed to use in the US? They currently use a foreign passport, a foreign drivers license, and domestic or foreign credit cards.

12. Have you warned the American people that once these passport and/or visa waiver programs are cancelled, foreign countries are likely to require passports and visas to enter their countries making international travel (including Canadian, Mexican, and Caribbean vacations) much more difficult to prepare for?

13. Passport design is not under US control but under the control of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Do you favor the replacement of the current passport with an "enhanced" identity document? How are poor counties supposed to afford the infrastructure necessary to support high-tech online-verifiable ID documents?

14. If your ID system is based on the state ID system, will any non-residents of the individual states be able to receive the new state IDs?

15. Do you favor cleaning up the existing ID system? Will you require all Americans to reverify their identity to receive the "enhanced" ID? If so, what documents or other proof of ID will they have to present? For example, will entries in a family bible be acceptable as proof of identity?

16. What provision have you made for persons who present themselves for identification but who have no (or inadequate) identification documents and whose biometric identifiers are not yet in the system? [The current system allows the testimony of others to establish identity for such purposes as passport issuance].

17. Do you favor requiring address registration (the requirement that all residents to register their address with police or local government) as part of your new ID system?

18. Will the homeless be able to obtain ID without a fixed address?

19. What do you envision happening to the millions of US residents who fail to qualify for the new IDs (or whose IDS are cancelled) or who refuse to apply for them for religious or political reasons?

20. Does your system envision any controls on false IDs intentionally issued by foreign (or US) governments for intelligence or witness protection purposes?