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


  1. Secure ID Cards: An initial concern that should be distinguished in the planning stage for a national ID card is the difference between the apparent identity claimed by the ID card and the actual identity of an individual.  Smart card technology must be considered to secure the ID cards and ensure that the identifying information on the card is correct with respect to the card carrier.


  1. Inside Corruption: Authority abuse from inside the administering body of the national ID system can result in unauthorized distribution of faulty/forged ID cards.


  1. Surveillance: Non-transactional actions – passing a checkpoint – can also cause data to be recorded in searchable databases. Monitoring technologies, some of which have real-time monitoring and tracking capabilities, are likely to become part of the government’s database.


  1. Masquerading, identity theft: ID information could be obtained through mail theft, interception of change of address forms, and telephone and Internet “spoofing.” Spoofing occurs when false messages are sent over the Internet in an effort to collect private information. Perpetrators seize information by stealing wallets, dumpster diving, accessing credit reporting data bases, accessing human resource files in the workplace, and spying on other people’s unprotected use of passwords and PINs. This personable information could be used for manufacturing of fake identity cards.


  1. Discrimination: Either situational or sectoral discrimination are an inherent part of the function of an ID card. 1) Situational – targeting individuals in unusual circumstances or in an abnormal fashion, 2) Sectoral – targeting people having certain physical characteristics, or in the case of an ID card, religious or ethnic information.



National ID Perspectives


Law Enforcement: National ID


Especially since the attacks of 9/11, law enforcement authorities have expressed concerns of their lack of ability to compare records from different agencies.  They feel that a National ID Card will create a cross-referencing system that will aid in collecting information about potential terrorists and domestic criminals.


Privacy Advocators: National ID


Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario – Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.


Cavoukian views a national ID card completely unwarranted and believes it will not achieve its principal goal of preventing terrorism or increasing public safety and security. She expresses 3 primary concerns:


1.      The requirement, scope and proposed use for an ID system: A national ID card would be redundant for many of its stated government purposes and could potentially act as a privacy-eroding tool.  The creation of a national database containing information on all Canadians would be unprecedented and far-reaching.


2.      The enrolment requirements for the ID system: Obliging citizens to carry an ID card would significantly limit the control an individual has over the uses of his or her personal information, and the degree to which it may be disclosed to others. Even a voluntary card can negatively impact privacy if it is required to obtain essential services, it cannot be characterized as being voluntary.


3.      The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of a national ID card: The government has provided little evidence that the creation of a national ID card would minimize terrorist activity, It is highly unlikely that potential terrorists would follow the rules and obtain such a card. More likely, terrorists will attempt to travel under forged documentation.


Privacy Commissioner of Canada - George Radwanski

“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.”


Canadian Government: National ID


Immigration Minister – Denis Coderre


Coderre feels that Canadians have come to see the ability to establish identity as an important element of personal and collective security. He proposes that although a national ID card will not be a ‘quick fix’, it will be a tool to protect Canadians.  Coderre says that during the course of the debate on a national identity card, protection of privacy must be a paramount consideration, but the discussion must be based on fact and reason and not “innuendo and fear mongering.”


“When I hear the Privacy Commissioner say that he is against debate even before listening to the arguments, what kind of democracy is that?”


“To talk about a police state is fear mongering.”


“Yes, it will prevent terrorism. It may be possible to put the technology to friendly use, with biometrics for instance…”


“The biggest threat to individual privacy is to have one’s identity stolen and used by someone else.”


Canadians: National ID


“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.”

-         Canadian Immigration Minister – Denis Coderre

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.


-         http://www.epic.org/privacy/survey/


57% of respondents think it is a good idea for all residents of Canada to carry a high-tech identity card. 30% of respondents think it is a bad idea.


-         www.nationalpost.com:  Poll by COMPAS Inc.

Canada: the Permanent Residence Card


The events of 9/11 raised the issue of border security and the safety of all Canadians to the forefront. This made the introduction of a PR Card a key government initiative.


The Card is a wallet-sized, plastic card, which confirms the permanent resident status of the cardholder. It replaces the IMM 1000 Record of Landing Form for travel purposes.


IMM 1000 Record of Landing Form – A large, difficult-to-carry piece of paper with no photograph, few security features and very little privacy for the permanent resident.


The Card – Necessary as of Dec. 31st 2003 for every permanent resident entering Canada, commercially.


·         Laser engraved photograph and signature, as well as a description of the physical characteristics (height, eye colour, gender) of the cardholder printed on the front.

·         Optical stripe contains encrypted information from the cardholder’s Confirmation of Permanent Resident form.

·         Data only accessible by authorized officials (Immigration officers)

·         Optical stripe is read only. (Data cannot be modified, erased, or added to)

·         Offline Data retrieval.

National ID Cards from Other Jurisdictions


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.

National ID System Failure


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.