Letter to the editor

The arguments about a national ID card must recognize a very simple truth: We already have an ID card. We all carry it. I don't care if you want to call it a driver's license or a debit or credit card. It can be — and is — tied to your Social Security number. That is why identity theft is the fastest-rising crime today.

The only discussion now is how effective and efficient we want the system that supports identity authentication to be. Individuals have made strong arguments before that one of the best protections is the inefficiency of government. However, on the other side is the existing difficulty, and rising cost, of protecting your own identity because of the fragmentation and duplication our existing "stovepipe" systems.

Several viable approaches are available today. As a government employee, I favor the Common Access Card that the Defense Department is implementing this year for 4.5 million employees, dependents and contractors. This will flow naturally into the Department of Veteran Affairs systems and set the foundation for health care services and benefit programs that can be transportable with the individual and not dependent on the particular hospital, job, domicile, etc.

The real issue is misuse. Can any government be trusted to refrain from using information or means for forbidden purposes? Our experience says probably to most emphatically, NO. However, has that ever stopped the development of new weapons and technology? Again, NO!

Therefore, I recommend that we spend our energy on developing checks and balances and firm guidelines for a system that will make such abuse as rare as we can stand or afford. J. Edgar Hoover will always be with us.

Roger Kurland Federal Technology Service

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