Saturday, February 18, 2006

Say "No" to National ID Cards

Let's see, we have SIN cards, health cards, birth certificates, passports, and driver's licenses, and now we're once again proposing the creation of a national ID card program [Calgary Sun, Day looks at ID card options]:
Sooner or later, Canadians will have to carry some form of identification other than a passport to travel outside the country, says the new federal minister of public safety [Stockwell Day].

...

New life is being breathed into the proposal now the U.S. has dropped its demand that Canadians be required to show passports to cross the border.

"We also want to be able to stop people who are a menace or a threat from getting in or getting out, so that's the overall goal," Day said.
What's the "new life"? Well, the national ID card program was proposed under the Liberal government under former Immigration Minister, Denis Coderre, and the idea tanked then too under the mistaken belief that it would help keep the bad guys out and make Canada safer.

It won't.

Canada's interim Privacy Commissioner at the time, Robert Marleau, back in 2003, supplied a report to Parliament when Mr. Coderre proposed a national ID card program. He had great concerns regarding the need for a national ID card program, the desire for such a system, the great concern for privacy issues (would this be an "internal passport"?), and the near astronomical cost. Mr. Coderre could not defend or support an argument for the national ID card program, and I don't think Mr. Day could either.

My concerns are the same as the Privacy Commissioner's.

How would a national ID card program keep the bad guys out precisely, and what is wrong with the passport? And, just because the British are doing it is also not justification. Here is the summary of the Privacy Commissioner's report:
The privacy risks associated with such a proposal are substantial. The challenges of putting in place a national ID system that is workable, affordable, and respectful of the privacy rights of Canadians are enormous. A strong case for the benefits has not been made; to the extent that benefits would exist, they would be marginal at best.
I think the case for a national ID card is impossible to make and I have yet to see one.

Further information regarding the national ID card program from the Privacy Commissioner can be found here.

[Hat tip, My Blahg]

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17 comments:

ferrethouse said...

Having a national ID card gives us a chance to get rid of the SIN card and possibly others. A national ID card would make it easier to prevent fraud in elections (my wife, who is not a citizen, received a voter registration card last month) and easier to administer national level programs (and provincial ones). Why not replace the patchwork of cards we currently have with one secure one? It makes perfect sense.

Jim said...

FH,

I think you'd have to figure out a way to then justify the cost to amalgamate all those disparate services into one uber-card. Way too expensive for something we don't truly need.

On top of that, most of the cards we get issued are issued voluntarily - driver's licenses, passports, and to some extent SIN's - must be requested but are not necessarily required. This national id card would seem to be required if it's going to serve as say a health card, voter card, etc.

Jim said...

Not to spam my own blog, but the explicit purpose of this card is for "travel and security". There's no indication that this national id card was going to replace all those other cards.

Resources would be better spent in improving the existing documentation or explain to us how this national id card would make us more secure.

Anonymous said...

Should be interesting to see what conservative bloggers have to say about yet another liberal idea creeping into the conservatives.

So the rejection of the gun registry is that it was so expensive and didn't do anything and was yet another bureacratic hurdle.

Now we have yet another federal program that will do nothing (do you have a passport- do you KNOW what's required to get a passport?), cost a fortune and is yet more infringement on our liberties from a central government. I thought we got rid of the liberals!

Sharon said...

Take a look at the Globe & Mail poll today, and the poll at CTV's website: 53% for and 64% for the ID cards with 7,986 and 8,527 people voting, respectively. I doubt this is a liberal/conservative issue. I am all in favour of national ID cards, North American ID cards for that matter. It will make travel more efficient for those with nothing to hide, and make it more likely that terrorists will be identified before they can cross borders to carry out their crimes against humanity.

Jim said...

It will make travel more efficient for those with nothing to hide, and make it more likely that terrorists will be identified before they can cross borders to carry out their crimes against humanity.

How so?

Danté said...

Heck, if it replaces all of those other cards that we need, why not switch to one?

Jim said...

Heck, if it replaces all of those other cards that we need, why not switch to one?

The privacy commissioner estimates the cost of creating a new card and new database at between $3 - $5 billion.

That does not include the additional costs to replace our existing systems with this new one.

The cost alone is prohibitive.

Besides, no one has suggested besides commenters here that it could be used to replace other card services. Mr. Day is only suggesting it in addition to using a passport to travel.

No one has explained how it will keep the bad guys out.

The Original LRU said...

That's what a passport is for. It makes no sense to have two IDs to travel internationally.

It's just another invasion of privacy and excuse to spend millions.

Patrick said...

The privacy commissioner estimates the cost of creating a new card and new database at between $3 - $5 billion.

if we apply the Gun Registry multiplier (2 million turned into 2 Billion) of 1000 then it should only cost the taxpayer $3 - $5 Trillion dollars. Which is nothing compared to our "freedom" and "security" right? :)

wonderdog said...

I'd like to know how a national ID card will make it easier to identify terrorists. Perhaps one of the proponents of this scheme could help out?

Perhaps there will be an application form where box 7b asks, "Are you a terrorist? Yes/No/Unsure."

Perhaps terrorists will get cards with a red background, while the rest of us get cards with a blue background, or something.

Face it: behind the proposal for a national ID card is a proposal for a national database, containing your personal information. A database that will be vulnerable to leaks and to misuse. A database holding information not about what you are known to have done, but what you are suspected of maybe having done.

Want to be searched at the airport because your neighbour, who you've been playing poker with on Saturday nights, has the wrong connections?

Some of us seem to be just fine with that.

Anonymous said...

Having one database with everything is great for the owner. How does it help us the people? It doesn't.

The reasons (one card, crime, etc) given to implement an ID card are ghosts designed to cover up the real purpose. What that is, I'm not sure.

Here's a good example of extracting data from a database. Have you ever been to Walmart? Well, by using your bill, they are able to track your path through the store. They use this information to cross sell other products you don't need.

Do you want the gov't to know every step you take?

Jim said...

how come we have a minister of public safety?

Clown Party of Canada said...

A passport is innexpenssive considering it lasts for five years. I like te process in making sure that the person pictured in passport is who he/she says they are.

At the PRESENT - subject to change - if the card is an addition to the passport then there is NO need.

If it replaces the passport then yes.

jim said, "No one has explained how it will keep the bad guys out. "

It will not help one bit keeping an unwanted person out - just like illegal guns - but once they get in - mostly through off-shore or "people smugglers" - what is there to stop them from obtainning false cards in Canada and still cross into the USA.


As for non-anadians voting - ferrehouse said, "A national ID card would make it easier to prevent fraud in elections" There should be better ways if saying you are Canadian other than driver's licance and a phone bill. I Think this is the one main weak points of our elections. [Also giving prisioners the vote - notice tht they received a ck. a few days later from the Liberal government in the form of a "heating rebate" for low income citiczens.] This would be useful for such things as proof of citiczenship

Anonymous said...

That's it let's scrap the gun registry in favour of a people registry!!

lecentre said...

Your translation provider sucks. It translated your title as DONT say no to national ID cards, and turned SIN cards into 'cartes peche', literally cards relating to sinning. Oh, did I mention it didn't capitalize the first letter in your first sentence?

Besides the difficulties with translation, I liked your post. This sort of project is dumb, and I figure it's probably just Day putting the idea out to satisfy the hard right constituency. Once it gets shot down properly (as your post contributes), he'll drop the topic. It's not worth the political capital, or even the survival of the government.

On a related note, the first edition of the Carnival of Centrism is up. We've got yourself, the Lebanese bloggers, and a number of other interesting things on foreign policy, canadian politics, and economics which might interest you. Centrist carnival.

Jim said...

Thanks for the link back and the note on the translation. I knew Google wasn't perfect, but that's insane.