Datastrip Inc. CEO Stephen Hunt has written an opinion piece framed as a letter to President George W. Bush. It puts forth an argument for the adoption of a nationwide identification card system. Central to this plan is the integration of biometric and two-dimensional bar-code technology.

In his letter, Hunt says, “We understand the fear of Big Brother looking down upon us from a single database however, there is a way to provide citizens with increased protection without compromising our privacy.” He goes on to write, “Through effective background checking and the combined use of biometrics and two-dimensional [2D] bar-code technology, we can ensure positive identification of individuals without online access to a national ID database.” Hunt believes that the advantages of an integrated biometric/2D bar-code ID system are, “It does not require online access to a national database every time a U.S. citizen’s ID is checked; it protects the citizen’s privacy and it can be implemented now.”

He points out that the driver’s license is the most widely used piece of identification in the country but that it was never designed to be a secure document. It was designed, in his words, as “a document that identified the holder as someone capable of operating a motor vehicle … it is still fairly easy to create a false one.” In Hunt’s most pointed comment, he says, “Long before Sept. 11, ID fraud was recognized as one of the fastest-growing white-collar crimes in the United States. In 1992, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 35,000 calls reporting ID theft. By June of this year the FTC was receiving 1,800 per week, or 93,600 annually.”

He closes the letter by saying, “Mr. President, we don’t have to give up privacy to protect ourselves against terrorists … what we do need is a practical and executable national system that ensures both our citizen’s security and privacy.”

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