NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Government Has Your (National ID) Number

March 24, 1999

For the last six years, the Clinton administration has been studying the best methods for collecting personal information on every American, centralizing the information in accessible databases, and issuing national identity cards, says Daniel W. Sutherland.

  • Over 70,000 people have signed up to receive an ID card under INSPASS, an Immigration and Naturalization Service program for international travelers.
  • INPASS takes personal and business information and biometric characteristics, such as a person's hand geometry, voice or retina pattern, and encodes it on a plastic card the traveler can use to speed exit and reentry into the U.S.
  • The voluntary program is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of including machine-readable data on U.S. passports, with the goal of requiring that anyone holding a passport submit this type of data to the government.

Furthermore, despite the rejection of President Clinton's 1993 proposal that every American be made to carry "health security cards" encoded with personal medical information, the administration has been developing a plan to assign every American a "unique health identifier."

And pursuant to the 1996 immigration law, the Social Security Administration and the INS have also been working for two years to create a national worker registry, and are developing programs to discourage companies from hiring anyone not on that list.

Critics are concerned that the integration of all this information in centralized government databases will give the government enormous new powers over Americans, and they say it represents a much greater threat to privacy than that posed by private industry.

Source: Daniel W. Sutherland (Center for Equal Opportunity), "The Hi-Tech ID Menace," American Spectator, February 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues