Sunday, February 24, 2008

Unintended Consequences of National ID

Bruce Schneier, a Minneapolis computer security specialist, had a concise critique of the idea of a national ID system in today's Star Tribune op-ed section. The problems he identified were:

  • An "unforgeable" card is an impossibility.
  • Through bribery or bootstrapping by using other forged documents, real national ID cards will be acquired by "bad guys."
  • People will lose their cards. And here Schneier revealed that "20 percent of all identity documents are lost per year." Guess who will find at least some of them...the "bad guys."
  • The people who check IDs will make mistakes. He points out, "It's not simply a matter of training; checking IDs is a mind-numbingly boring task, one that is guaranteed to have failures."
And, of course, the kicker: Any national ID system would require a nicely centralized database, just waiting to be hacked by outsiders or insiders.

The one fact in all those bullet points that really got my attention was that 20 percent of identity documents are lost each year. I'd be willing to bet that a disproportionate number of those (either lost or stolen, I imagine) belong to women rather than men. You know, because men generally carry their wallets in their pockets, while women carry theirs inside purses.

So to do my part, and to pave the way for the national ID, I thought I would design a public service campaign to urge women to give up their purses for the sake of national security.

Here are the first of what I hope will be a long line of compelling propaganda messages on behalf of our nation.

Altered version of the classic Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks? poster that says Is your purse breeding terrorists?

Rosie the Riveter holding a purse, We Can Do It - No More Purses!
More later.

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