The events of 9/11 increased calls for the establishment of a national identification system; proponents argue that such a system might have prevented the attacks. Others decry that the adoption of national identity cards would be yet another step down the slippery slope of government surveillance.

Explore how national identity cards are used in other countries and write about the following:

  • Provide at least 1 specific example of how national identity cards are used.
  • How would it be possible (or would it be impossible?) to safeguard the information that is contained on a high-tech national identity card? Discuss whether or not personal information, such as medical records, criminal history, or mental health problems should be encoded on such cards.
  • What are the proposed advantages of a national identification card?
  • What are some of the possible disadvantages of a national identification card?
  • If a system of national identification cards had been in place prior to September 11, 2001, could it have prevented the terrorist attacks?

Additional Resources

Impact Assessment: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Strengthening the Security of Identity Cards of Union Citizens and of Residence Documents issued to Union Citizens and their Family Members Exercising their Right to Free Movement.

  • This initiative addresses difficulties in exercising free movement and aims to increase security within the European Union

The Department of Homeland Security: Real ID

  • The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.
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