Letter to the editor

I read with interest the article titled "Congress mulls ID cards" [FCW, Dec. 3] because national identification cards are such a controversial topic. Most people in America are either for or against national ID cards — there are very few people "sitting on the fence." I was not disappointed in the article, as it clearly outlined the two sides with no apparent middle ground. But why is there no middle ground?

Why do we always feel the need to invent something new? Why not just fix what we have? The article stated, "something very much like a national ID card could be created using state-issued driver's licenses."

Unfortunately, each state has a completely independent system for issuing driver's licenses. The basic information is the same, but the designs vary widely. For example, if I show up at the airport in Oregon and show the person behind the counter a driver's license from Arkansas, what are the odds this person would know what a valid driver's license from Arkansas looks like? Not very good!

So why not take the simple step of standardizing driver's licenses from state to state? The states already bear the cost of authentication and issuance, and driver's licenses are reissued periodically anyway, so it's an easy and inexpensive way of increasing the value of an ID card most people already have. And even people who do not drive can get state-issued identification cards.

Why do we always think that we have to reinvent the wheel? Why can't we improve on what we have already? If it's deemed necessary, all the attributes discussed for national ID cards could be added to driver's licenses (e.g. biometrics, magnetic strips, embedded chips, holograms, embedded fibers, etc.).

Will either an improved driver's license or a national ID card prevent terrorists from boarding a plane? Probably not. But an improved driver's license will at least take some of the burden off the behind-the-counter personnel at the airports, rental car agencies, train stations, etc.

Let's look at the low-tech approach of improving what we already have before creating something new.

Charles Scruggs
President and founder
InfoMediary Associates

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