National ID Cards

The feds are toying with schemes for high-tech national ID cards--as if this will separate the good guys from the bad. Wrong. All these cards will deliver is a false sense of security. You can stuff them with chips and even throw in thumbprints or digitized retinal scans. But if the document they're based on--birth certificates, passports, or whatever--are forged, a thumbprint is no better than a picture.

Despite that, some companies already insist that workers carry smart IDs, with chips containing birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses. The Transportation Dept. also wants smart IDs for every truck driver, port worker, flight attendant, and train conductor. And Congress is set to approve a homeland-security bill that would mandate chip-enhanced state driver's licenses, standardized across state borders and backed by birth certificates. But don't let the silicon fool you: Identity is all too easy to fake.

By Lorraine Woellert

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