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Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood

Overview

The advance of identification technology biometrics, identity cards, surveillance, databases, dossiers threatens privacy, civil liberties, and related human interests. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, demands for identification in the name of security have increased. In this insightful book, Jim Harper takes readers inside identification a process everyone uses every day but few people have ever thought about. Using stories and examples from movies, television, and classic literature, Harper ...

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Overview

The advance of identification technology biometrics, identity cards, surveillance, databases, dossiers threatens privacy, civil liberties, and related human interests. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, demands for identification in the name of security have increased. In this insightful book, Jim Harper takes readers inside identification a process everyone uses every day but few people have ever thought about. Using stories and examples from movies, television, and classic literature, Harper dissects identification processes and technologies, showing how identification works when it works and how it fails when it fails. Harper exposes the myth that identification can protect against future terrorist attacks. He shows that a U.S. national identification card, created by Congress in the REAL ID Act, is a poor way to secure the country or its citizens. A national ID represents a transfer of power from individuals to institutions, and that transfer threatens liberty, enables identity fraud, and subjects people to unwanted surveillance. Instead of a uniform, government-controlled identification system, Harper calls for a competitive, responsive identification and credentialing industry that meets the mix of consumer demands for privacy, security, anonymity, and accountability. Identification should be a risk-reducing strategy in a social system, Harper concludes, not a rivet to pin humans to governmental or economic machinery.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Harper, a lawyer and member of the Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, is affiliated with the independent libertarian think tank that has published this book. Here he raises the topic of using identification as a means of security, his point being that governments and businesses have taken to conflating the two, something that Harper seeks to end. He discusses ID cards, biometrics, the Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005 (which may require a nationally standardized machine-readable ID of all citizens), and identity theft. He claims that the federal government's post-9/11 identification measures may not achieve their goals of reducing terrorism and ensuring safe commerce. Although conceived to provide peace and security, these identification methods, he says, instead infringe upon civil liberties and privacy. Harper's arguments would be stronger if he had provided a framework for understanding contemporary identification systems, for example, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, and if he had used fewer television analogies, such as Spock's mind-melding technique in Star Trek and dialog from Seinfeld. A more straightforward and convincing analysis is Bruce Schneier's Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World, which claims that identity cards and security systems can be logically understood and used wisely if evaluated in terms of tradeoffs and costs, as well as benefits. Caroline Geck, Kean Univ., Union, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781930865853
  • Publisher: Cato Institute
  • Publication date: 11/25/2005
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 1,260,493
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Understanding identification 11
3 Something you are 21
4 Something you are assigned 27
5 Something you know 35
6 Something you have 47
7 Identifiers in the fourth dimension 55
8 Identification, risk, and authorization 63
9 Advanced identification techniques 73
10 Identification and relationships 83
11 Identification and accountability 91
12 Anonymity and personality 97
13 Anonymity and immunity 103
14 Identification cards 113
15 Data veracity 121
16 Card security 131
17 Verifier check 139
18 Can identification cards be fixed? 145
19 The decline of practical obscurity 157
20 Dossiers and surveillance 167
21 "Your papers, please" 177
22 Insecurity 185
23 Use identification less 201
24 Use authorization instead 225
25 Use diverse identification systems 233
26 Conclusion 249
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    'Must reading' for all social activists

    Cato Institute director of Information Policy Studies Jim Harper presents 'Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood', is a cautionary book about how increasing identification and computer technology, as well as stepped-up government demands for identification in the wake of the September 11 attacks, are threats to citizen autonomy, privacy, and civil liberties. 'Identity Crisis' maintains that resisting endless demands for identification can protect privacy without compromising national security furthermore, Identity Crisis warns against potential abuses of government power and gives current information about controversies such as the REAL ID Act and other security-related topics. A thoughtful and critically written dissection of a hot-button social topic, 'Identity Crises' should be considered 'must reading' for all social activists concerned with the growing domination of government into personal lives and liberties of American citizens.

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