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presented by such a system, with the goal of fostering a broad, deliberate, and sophisticated discussion among policy makers and stakeholders about whether such a system is desirable or feasible.

Policy questions that the committee believes should be considered when contemplating any kind of identity system include the following:



  • What is the purpose of the system? Possibilities range from expediting and/or tracking travel to prospectively monitoring individuals' activities in order to identify and look for suspicious activity to retrospectively identifying perpetrators of crimes.
  • What is the scope of the population that would be issued an “ID” and, presumably, be recorded in the system? How would the identities of these individuals be authenticated?

  • What is the scope of the data that would be gathered about individuals participating in the system and correlated with their national identity? While colloquially it is referred to as an “identification system,” implying that all the system would do is identify individuals, many proposals talk about the ID as a key to a much larger collection of data. Would these data be identity data only (and what is meant by identity data)? Or would other data be collected, stored, and/or analyzed as well? With what confidence would the accuracy and quality of this data be established and subsequently determined?

  • Who would be the user(s) of the system (as opposed to those who would participate in the system by having an ID)? One assumption seems to be that the public sector/government will be the primary user, but what parts of the government, in what contexts, and with what constraints? In what setting(s) in the public sphere would such a system be used? Would state and local governments have access to the system? Would the private sector be allowed to use the system? What entities within the government or private sector would be allowed to use the system? Who could contribute, view, and/or edit data in the system?

  • What types of use would be allowed? Who would be able to ask for an ID, and under what circumstances? Assuming that there are datasets associated with an individual's identity, what types of queries would be permitted (e.g., “Is this person allowed to travel?” “Does this person have a criminal record?”)? Beyond simple queries, would analysis and data mining of the information collected be permitted? If so, who would be allowed to do such analysis and for what purpose(s)?

  • Would participation in and/or identification by the system be voluntary or mandatory? In addition, would participants have to be aware of or consent to having their IDs checked (as opposed to, for example, allowing surreptitious facial recognition)?


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