Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are working together to create a national identification card with biometric technology. The purpose of the card will be to curb illegal immigration. Because all citizens will be required to carry one, employers will have no excuse to hire illegal immigrants.
Predictably, privacy advocates are already up in arms over the proposal. According to the article (see link above), one of the major objections is that the government will be able to track citizens. However, this concern makes little sense in today’s digitized world. If you use a credit card, debit card, or cell phone, the government can already track you wherever you go.
The biometric data, undoubtedly, will also cause a stir. Early indications about the bill (which is still being developed in the Senate) seem to show that the biometric data will either be a fingerprint or a scan of the veins on the back of one’s hand. I assume that if DNA was the biometric of choice, this issue would go from controversial to downright explosive. Fortunately, that probably won’t be the case.
In an age of globalization and terrorism, it may be time for the United States to implement a national ID card. At the very least, it’s time to have this discussion. Hopefully it goes better than the health care discussion.
Alex B. Berezow is a microbiology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington.