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Suggested Citation:"4 Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2002. IDs -- Not That Easy: Questions About Nationwide Identity Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10346.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2002. IDs -- Not That Easy: Questions About Nationwide Identity Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10346.
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Page 47
Suggested Citation:"4 Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2002. IDs -- Not That Easy: Questions About Nationwide Identity Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10346.
×
Page 48
Suggested Citation:"4 Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2002. IDs -- Not That Easy: Questions About Nationwide Identity Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10346.
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Page 49
Suggested Citation:"4 Concluding Remarks." National Research Council. 2002. IDs -- Not That Easy: Questions About Nationwide Identity Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10346.
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Page 50

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4 Concluding Remarks G iven the complexity of a nationwide identity system, its potential impacts, and the broad scope of the issues it raises, the committee believes that much more analysis is needed. Such analysis cannot proceed, however, without a clear articulation of the system’s goals and requirements. The committee believes that if a nationwide identity system is to be created, the goals of such a system must be clearly and publicly identified and deliberated upon, with input sought from all stakeholders (including private citizens). Given the economic costs, the significant design and implementation challenges, and the risks to security and privacy posed by a poorly thought-out system, prior public review1 is essential. Thus the committee believes that proponents of a nationwide identity system should be required to present a very compelling case addressing these issues and that they should solicit input from a broad range of stakeholder communities.2 The committee’s own discussion of a nation- 1For an example of how this might work, consider the public-review cycle for the Ad- vanced Encryption Standard (AES); see <http://csrc.nist.gov/encryption/aes/>, managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2Other stakeholder groups have already commented on the idea of a national identity card, albeit within varying contexts. For example, in 1995 the Cato Institute presented an extensive policy analysis of the notion of a nationwide worker registry within the context of a larger immigration debate (see <http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa237.html>). The American Civil Liberties Union offered similar opposition (see <http://www.aclu.org/li- brary/aaidcard.html>); around the same time, Privacy International prepared a report de- scribing the use and implications of national ID cards from an international perspective (see <http://www.privacy.org/pi/activities/idcard/idcard_faq.html>). 46

CONCLUDING REMARKS 47 wide identity system, although brief and modest in scope, raised numer- ous complex questions. It is clear that an evaluation of the potential costs, presumed benefits, and potential drawbacks of any proposed system is necessary in order to fully appreciate its trade-offs. Care must be taken to completely explore the ramifications of any nationwide identity system not only because of the significant policy con- cerns and technological challenges but also because after-the-fact costs— the result of revoking, correcting, or redesigning after broad deploy- ment—would be enormous. Moreover, analysts must give serious consideration to the idea that—given the broad range of potential uses, security requirements, and privacy needs that might be contemplated— no single nationwide identity system is likely to meet the varied demands of all potential users. Undoubtedly many more issues exist that are not even touched upon here. Given the wide range of technological and logistical challenges, the likely direct and indirect costs, the serious potential for infringing on the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens, and the gravity of the policy issues raised, any proposed nationwide identity system requires strict scrutiny and significant deliberation well in advance of design and de- ployment.

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IDs—Not That Easy highlights some of the challenging policy, procedural, and technological issues presented by nationwide identity systems. In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, nationwide identity systems have been proposed to better track the movement of suspected terrorists. However, questions arise as to who would use the system and how, if participation would be mandatory, the type of data that would be collected, and the legal structures needed to protect privacy. The committee's goal is to foster a broad and deliberate discussion among policy-makers and the public about the form of nationwide identity system that might be created, and whether such a system is desirable or feasible.

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