Half of all Americans support a national ID card

Half of all Americans have a favorable view of a national identity card while an overwhelming number support adding biometric data to government-issued identity documents, according to a new Internet survey.

Fifty percent said the introduction of a national form of identification would be very or somewhat positive, while 32 percent viewed it negatively. However, 79 percent of Americans either strongly or somewhat support inclusion of biometrics in passports, 75 percent in Social Security cards and 74 percent in driver’s licenses, the survey reports.

London-based TNS, a market research firm, and TRUSTe, an independent, non-profit San Francisco-based organization that operates a global privacy certification and seal program released the survey, which asked 1,003 U.S. Internet users their views on different types of biometric technology.

The survey reports that most Americans have heard about biometrics and half have a very positive or somewhat positive view of it. A majority of respondents indicated that the use of biometrics would make it much more difficult for thieves to steal their identity and much harder for terrorists to operation in the United States. Almost half said biometrics in a government-issued national ID card would make the nation more secure.

About 81 percent of respondents chose fingerprint as the most acceptable form of a biometric identifier to prove their identity. That was followed by an iris scan (58 percent), hand geometry (50 percent), voice recognition (48 percent), facial recognition (44 percent) and DNA (34 percent).

But there were negative attitudes in using biometrics as well. Large numbers of respondents said biometrics would be expensive, criminals will find a way around the technology, government will misuse such data and their privacy will be diminished because government will be able to track their movements.

The survey states that fewer Americans would support using biometric data in cards issued by private-sector firms than government IDs, but more than two-thirds think adding such data to credit and debit cards would be a good idea.

“This fairly high support, however does not extend to other types of cards,” the survey reads. “Just 28 percent of Americans favor adding their biometric data to retail store loyalty cards, for example.”

TNS and TRUSTe also surveyed 1,157 Canadians, who shared similar positive attitudes about the technology.

“Compared to U.S. citizens, though, Canadians tend to express slightly more support (for) including biometric information in government-issued documents and less support for private sector uses of biometric data,” according to the report.

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