I really enjoy reading the comments from, and blogs of, my non-U.S. readers. Often those folks will have a different perspective on things based on their unique history, laws and culture. It’s fun and educational to read their views.
I find that many Americans are pretty insular and lack a world perspective—often to their (our) detriment.
The issue in yesterday’s post about a national I.D. card is a good example. Three of the first four comments were from folks from other continents (Africa and Europe). They clearly have had long experience with fingerprinting and identity papers, and fail to see any reason for concern.
We Americans treasure our “free country” image. Part of that freedom is our illusory ability to move about within our country at will, with no need to produce identity documents on demand. But if you think about it, we already have to show a picture I.D. to do just about anything.
Most of us carry a “government” I.D. card in the form of a driver’s license. Yes, it’s state government rather than federal, but is that such a big deal?
One big concern raised about the new TWIC is that it will have fingerprint images in its digital memory. Several people told me they had never been fingerprinted, and associated that act with being arrested for a crime. I shrugged and told them that when I entered military service I was fingerprinted. No big deal. But they felt this was somehow “different.”
Civil libertarians deplore the slow erosion of the freedoms we have long enjoyed. Well, so do I. But today’s world is a different one from that of 30-40 years ago.
I had the thought that there might not be so much resistance to this new “Identity Credential” if carrying one also offered a perk or two. How about this: Since issuance of a card can only occur following a complete background check (hence much of the expense of the program), why not allow those who have them a much lower level of security screening at airports?
Two lines to get to the boarding area. One sign says, “Passengers with TWIC,” the other sign says, “Passengers without TWIC.” Same idea at any building (like a courthouse) or public event (concert, etc.) where security screening is done.
The TWIC could take the place of the state-issued driver’s license, as that information could be installed into one of the card’s chips. Likewise the Social Security number. Heck, it could even become an electronic passport.
Of course, as Valkyrie points out, it’ll only be a matter of time before counterfeits are available for terrorists and other crooks.
Maybe the tattoo isn’t a bad idea after all. It’s all a matter of your perspective.