What are some Identification Schemes?
ID schemes vary as to an individual carrying a physical card or is an owner of a unique number - similar to a social security system- or a combination of the two. The different schemes can also be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the citizenship status of the individual.
Some Common ID Schemes:
$ Unique ID umber; no card: Similar to today=s social security number. An individual is given a unique ID number, by which they identify themselves for access to different services. The ID number is associated with data about that specific individual stored in a centralized database. There may be a card. But it is merely a superficial piece of paper.
$ Biometric data on card only; no ID number; no database: Each individual is given a card that has encoding of personal biometric information; retinal-scan, fingerprint, and a photograph and other personal data. There are no ID numbers, no database. The individual utilizes the card offline only. Spot comparisons of the real-time biometrics versus those found on the card are the means for identification validation.
$ Unique ID code on card and in database(s); biometrics and other data in database: Each individual is given a unique ID number that is used as a key to access online personal data, such as biometric characteristics, in an offsite database.
$ Unique ID code and biometric data on card, biometrics and other data in database: Each individual is given a unique ID number and a card containing encoding of personal biometric information. The ID number is also a key for online data retrieval from an offsite database.
$ Biometric data in database only, no card: Biometric data is directly read from an individual in real-time and compared online to an offsite database.
Government Uses for ID Schemes:
$ Authentication at initial registration: A national ID would be sufficient documentation of identity of an individual when he/she applies for a service for the first time.
$ Checking background of applicants: Under assumption of correctness of cardholder=s true identity, a national ID would allow for authorities or service administrators to check the applicant=s background for various reasons.
$ Authentication at security checkpoints: A card or biometric reading would prove an individual=s identity and allow access to locations or services.
$ Scanning for suspects: Identification readers can be placed around secured areas, continuously collecting data from individuals, monitoring those through biometric, or unique ID numbers scans, identifying suspects.
$ Data mining and matching: Database administrators may compare known data from their respective databases about specific individuals, compiling comprehensive dossiers on suspicious persons or normal citizens.
The specific ID scheme in use will determine to what extent a subset of the above security functions can be used.
Risks of National Identity Cards
The requirement, scope and proposed use for an ID system:
“In Canada, we are not required to carry any identification -- let alone to identify ourselves on demand -- unless we are carrying out a licensed activity such as driving.
I can find no justification for a national identity card, especially since it is absolutely useless as an anti-terrorist measure. As the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks demonstrated, terrorists are not necessarily previously identifiable as such. Every citizen would be able to obtain and display an identity card, regardless of his or her possible terrorist proclivities, but of course it wouldn't list occupation as "terrorist." And short-term visitors to Canada wouldn't have such a card at all.
Rather than a "debate" about a grave and needless intrusion, Canada needs clear acknowledgement by the Government that the fundamental privacy right of anonymity as we go about our day-to-day lives is too important to abrogate for no apparent reason.”
“We polled 3,000 people. Seventy-six per cent believe that the time has come to protect our identity and our privacy. If it takes a card, and it depends what we want on it and I will talk about that, then so be it. We will decide among ourselves.”
Immediately after the attacks, a Harris Poll found that 68% of Americans supported a national ID system. A study conducted in November 2001 for the Washington Post found that only 44% of Americans supported national ID. A poll released in March 2002 by the Gartner Group found that 26% of Americans favored a national ID, and that 41% opposed the idea.
Hong Kong is set to implement a so-called 'Smart Identity Card' in the spring of 2003. The card will employ biometrics and will be used for immigration and travel purposes. Both thumbprints will be digitized and stored electronically on the card. It's expected the card will fully replace current identification documents by 2004. Cardholders will have the option to add driver's licence and library card information.
Italy has the carta d'identita. It's an ID card carried by Italian citizens at home and abroad. Although the cards don't carry biometric information, they display the bearer's photograph, as well as place and date of birth. The card is available to all Italian citizens over 16 years of age. Although the card is not mandatory, an official with Italy's embassy in Ottawa says they are highly recommended – even for travel within Italy – as Italian police can stop citizens and ask to see identification.
Israel has an official identification document that citizens must carry bylaw by age 16. It's similar to a birth certificate and contains personal information and a photo. Attached to this is a paper that can be updated to list things like marital status. This identification does not contain biometric information. It's used as official identification, but does not erase the need for a separate passport for travel abroad.
Britain is exploring the possibility of adopting an identity card to be used on a voluntary basis. As in the Canadian and American proposals, the card would utilize biometric information. The card is currently under a six-month review.
United States has the Department of Transportation, acting on instructions from Congress, working with states to develop electronically smarter drivers' licenses that can be checked for validity across the country, and that have more than just than that always-awful picture — like a fingerprint or retinal-scan imprint — to match the card to its holder.
The electronic ID card will be tested in eleven city councils end of 2002/beginning of 2003. This card should allow access for public services to citizens and advance the communication between citizens and administration. The pilot is intended for six months. In case it is successful, all 589 city councils will issue the ID card in Belgium. This card is valid for five years and costs presumably € 10.
Estonia started with the issuance of national ID cards January 28th 2002. These cards are issued by the Citizenship and Migration Board. They fulfill the requirements of Estonia’s Signature Act and are mandatory for all Estonian citizens and permanent resident foreigners over 15 years of age.
Since beginning of 2000 electronic ID cards are issued in Finland (at police departments). This national ID card is also an official travel document for Finnish citizens in 19 European countries.
The card is valid for three years and costs € 29.00. Presently, the card can be used for access to online-banking and insurance services as well as further services that are offered by regional administrations.
The Austrian government decided to use smart card technologies in order to simplify their citizens’ official business on November 20 2000. The citizen card is based on the national insurance card - which is issued by the national insurance association – and enhanced by the facility to generate electronic signatures. Due to the synergy effect between national insurance card and citizen card savings are possible - especially in respect of the card management. It is considered to use the technology of the citizen card for the new identity card as well. Thus both the citizen card’s functionality for electronic transactions and the functionality of a conventional identity card would be combined.
The Swiss government has decided to issue the electronic ID card. The justice-and police department works on a concept and a draft law for the introduction of this electronic ID card till end 2003. This citizen card should help to push several confidential and binding online-applications in Switzerland. The electronic ID card can be used both as a conventional and as an electronic identity card and enable covenant signing. This card will be a pure identity card. Further information like health data will not be stored on the card.
Several ways that identification technology can fail to enhance security:
Proponents of new national ID systems believe that adding technological features to the cards themselves will eliminate problems inherent to such systems, like fraud and forgery.
If a card can be affordably mass-manufactured, it can also be forged. The addition of "high-tech" features--embedded "smart" chips, biometric interlocking, and linking of card data to databases--all promise to make cards less forgeable, and for a while will succeed.
However, a cruel paradox of identity card systems is that the more secure a card is, the greater its value, and the greater the incentive and reward for breaking the card. Any card or device in the public's hands long enough will be cracked.
Moreover, bureaucrats could also be bribed or forcibly coerced into divulging information or producing fake ID cards.
More realistically, hackers could invade centralized databases and distort or steal personal information. In any event, human error is a real possibility.