The Future of Identity Cards

Domestic Fliers Will Need Real ID Compliant Identification in 2023

From the time of New York’s first immigrant in 1630, up until the advent of the new federal identification card in 1965, Americans could readily obtain identification in their own language, and the vast majority of the time in the name of a family member. Since at least the 1880s, the vast majority of Americans have carried an identification card.

It was only 15 years ago, and I had to travel through a long stretch of swampland, a highway out of town, and back from a very rural area. At one point, I passed the house of a retired physician, who was working on a grant from the National Institutes of Health. He had brought with him a state identification card, which identified him as a physician living at the very edge of the state. He was still wearing the gold-framed ID card, the kind you’d see in a travel magazine.

It turns out this type of document had become common as people who were living in the outskirts of society acquired new identity documents that allowed them to travel. After all, to be a doctor in the United States, even for just a short time, required training, licensing, and perhaps a master’s degree in medicine. It wasn’t difficult to obtain a new ID document for that purpose.

In the absence of any central registry showing who was who, and who was in which family, the federal government has been forced to rely on the use of ID cards, driver’s licenses, or passports.

The Department of Homeland Security is developing a database of all Americans that would allow for the creation of an electronic master record, which means the Department would be able to create a complete list of every American’s personal records. The idea seems logical. I’ve heard it argued that the Department would be able to do what it’s been unable to do in the past: find someone by reviewing their social security number.

Such a database would be used for everything from national security purposes, like ensuring people were not living under an assumed name, to background checks for employment and housing. Of course

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