June 09, 2005

Action: Let USA Today Know Your Thoughts

Today I came across this editorial by Randall Larsen advocating national identity cards preceded by "privately issued travelers cards" as an interim measure on USA Today's website:

Traveler's card might just pave the way for a national ID card

Among other things, Randall writes:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., recently changed his mind. Twenty years ago, as governor of Tennessee, he vetoed a bill requiring photos on driver's licenses. He saw it as a breach of privacy. Today, he is calling for national ID cards — with photos and biometrics.

Why the change?

The reason he and others have changed their minds is that the creation of national ID cards is something akin to medical procedures — they all have risks, but when the risk of inaction becomes greater than the risk of action, action becomes the better choice.

Today, 15 European democracies have national ID cards. The United Kingdom debated the issue for several years after 9/11 and has recently decided to move forward with such a system. Our debate should begin now, and it should begin with these four questions:

1. Does an organization and system exist that can ensure ID credentials are properly issued?

2. Does the technology exist to create IDs that cannot be altered or counterfeited?

3. Can we build an affordable system?

4. Does the public feel secure that such a system would protect privacy?

Today, the answers are: no, yes, yes, no. It is unlikely that the public will support a national identity system until we can obtain four yeses. Is this possible? Absolutely, but much work is needed.


I am confident that several of us take issue with this passage (among others in the article). But if we don't speak up, it's "experts" such as this who will dominate the public discussion. Therefore, I ask that you please take a few minutes to let USA Today (and hopefully many, many others if your letter gets published) know that you disagree by writing a letter to the editor by e-mailing editor@usatoday.com.

Alot of personal information about you is requested. Take note that
1. It is requested, but does not say it is mandatory, and
2. USA Today may use it in accordance with its lack of privacy policy to share it with every Tom, Dick, and Nancy on the planet.

If you believe any of the information in the editorial is inaccurate, you may contact Reader Editor Brent Jones to report corrections at 1-800-872-7073 or e-mail accuracy@usatoday.com.

Please post your letters in the comments section of this thread.

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