Officials ponder national ID card

Posted 11:03 a.m. Feb. 4

By Rob Torte

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – State officials have asked Congress for more than $100 million to link all 50 state driver’s license databases together for the purpose of creating a national identification card.

According to the American Association of Motor Vehicles, licenses have already “become a de facto ID card” with licenses being used as identity verification everywhere from airports to banks to nightclubs.

Currently, licenses contain varying security features depending on the state.

Massachusetts is one state on the cutting edge of license technology. Security features on the licenses include multiple holograms, barcodes and the repetition of information. Additionally, minors are issued vertical cards with “Under 21” in bright red lettering.

The General Services Administration proposes security features such as magnetic strips, fingerprints and DNA samples for a national ID card.

All hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks used fake identities and licenses to gain access to the airplanes. Any new national ID database would be linked to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and federal law enforcement agencies. The Sept. 11 hijackers all obtained their licenses in Florida.

National IDs are not a new idea. Historically, the public has been wary of such a system. The main opposition to the Social Security card was that it would become a national ID.

“Now people have thought about it and are less sure. There is a historical tradition in this country of preventing government access to certain areas of our lives until the government has a good reason to do so,” said Mihir Kshirsagar, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil rights think tank.

Many students interviewed support a national ID as long as it has restrictions.

“I think it’s a good idea as long as it’s basic enough to identify America’s citizens, but not to the point where the government is running our lives,” said Bryan Gless, a junior at The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.

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