Hearing people go on and on about how a national online ID will prevent fraud makes me wonder if they’ve ever bothered to fill out a tax form. If they did, then they would realize that we already have a national ID in the form of a Social Security number, assigned to us from birth and used to identify us in every meaningful transaction with the government.
Yet this hasn’t prevented identity fraud from taking place, far from it. According to a study cited by MSNBC there is a one in seven chance that someone else has used your Social Security number for fraudulent purposes. It’s not like they haven’t had time to work out the kinks in the system either -- the bill was signed into law in 1935.
Try telling this to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, whose agency was recently awarded the authority to house and direct the online ID program (or for those of you enjoy long, convoluted government names: The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace). Along with supposedly preventing fraud, this national ID ( which despite assigning everyone a unique ID is totally not a “national identity card or government control, but enhancements that perhaps eliminating the need to remember a dozen passwords” according to Locke) will create a magical system that also prevents spam and preserves online anonymity.
I’m not sure how taking away online anonymity is supposed to increase privacy nor am I sure how giving everyone a verifiable ID and address will decrease the amount of mail sent to them. But I am sure that creating this program will have almost no real positive benefits while creating yet another agency that is kept afloat by taxpayer dollars.