Pros & Cons of National ID Cards

A national identification card would be used to prove one's identity to government officials. The idea of using national identification cards resurfaced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and the revelations that some of the hijackers had false identification.

Pro: Immigration Control

An obvious argument for national identification cards is that it will help border agents and other federal officers more quickly determine the immigration status of individuals. If one is unable to produce a valid card, it could mean that the person did not enter the country legally. The card would include information about the person, such as height, weight and eye colour, and other aspects to make it harder to forge.

Pro: Easier Identification

Today, many retailers ask for photo identification when making purchases with a credit or debit card. While many people use a driver's license, a national ID card will also let those without driver's licenses prove their identity more easily and without hassle. This easier form of identification can also be used in airports and other facilities that require a form of state-issued identification. An easier form of identification can also reduce the wait time at airports.

Con: Feasibility

In many countries, it is not feasible to implement a program that would issue national identification cards to its citizens, permanent residents and legal immigrants. In order to be able to distribute the national identification cards, staff would need to be trained and maintained. It would also be difficult to ensure that the majority of the population would register for a national identification card. Some, such as the homeless, might have trouble proving their identities in order to receive a card because of a lack of Social Security numbers or birth certificates.

Con: Redundancy

Because most people already have forms of state-issued identification through driver's licenses, requiring everyone to obtain and carry another national identification card would be redundant. It would also seem silly because the costs that a national identification card would incur greatly outweigh the benefit of having two identification cards. There is no point in having a separate national identity card when the state driver's license system is already in place.

Con: Possible Invasion of Privacy

National identification cards can be used to track an individual. In order for the national identification card to be usable by the government, a national database containing personal information would have to be created. This database could be considered an invasion of privacy. However, if the government chooses not to create this database, then it will be too easy for individuals to commit fraud by having multiple cards with different identities.