Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood

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Cato Institute, 2006 - Political Science - 276 pages
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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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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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Jim Harper is director of information policy studies at the Cato Insitute, where he works to adapt law and policy to the unique problems of the information age, in areas such as privacy, telecommunications, intellectual property, and security. Harper is a member of the Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee and he recently co-edited the book "Terrorizing Ourselves: How U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How to Fix It".

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