The Disadvantages of National ID Cards

Updated April 14, 2017

With several countries and states debating the implementation of national identification cards, many people find it important to understand the disadvantages of a national identification system. In America, organisations such as the ACLU believe that a national ID card system would remove certain civil liberties, while other organisations believe that the cost to the federal government would be too great.


According to Apathetic Voter, the cost for an American national identification system greatly outweighs the benefits of such a system. In addition to costs for printing and maintaining the card, other staffing issues add to the total economic costs, including hiring, firing, training, administration, holiday leave, sick leave and issue of cards overseas. Possibilities of fraud and maintenance also raise the potential costs of the national ID card. In addition, for Americans, costs handled by states would transfer to the national government, possibly leading to higher federal taxes. According to the ACLU, the cost to American taxpayers would reach £2 billion.

Crime/Terrorism Prevention

The purpose of many national ID card programs, including the card program introduced in the United States, is the deference of crime and terrorism. The Parliament of Australia cancelled its national identification program because research showed that identification cards would not assist crime prevention because the police have more trouble finding evidence linking crimes with perpetrators than identifying criminals. The ACLU and the Parliament of Australia agree that national ID cards will not prevent terrorism, as many attacks have been performed with temporary identification or forged ID cards, such as the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and bombings in Madrid.

Right to Privacy

One of the ACLU's most significant arguments to the national identification system holds that a national ID card would "diminish the freedom and privacy" of Americans. The reason given by the ACLU is that, much like the expansion of Social Security numbers into economic sectors, the national ID card would begin to be an identifier in many areas. This allows the government access to the economic and physical movements of individuals.

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About the Author

Donny Quinn has been writing professionally since 2002 and has been published on various websites. He writes technical manuals for a variety of companies, including restaurants, hotels and salons. Quinn is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English at Georgia State University.