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Study Urged for National ID System

April 12, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) _ While a national identity card has been widely discussed following the terrorist attacks, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences says any such system must carefully balance security needs with privacy concerns.

A well-run national system would make it more difficult for a person to have multiple identities and would help in finding people such as potential terrorists, the committee concluded.

But serious questions must be addressed about how to protect privacy, who would use the system, whether participation would be mandatory, the type of information to be collected and how to deal with any failure or misuse of the system.

``The technical challenges, the expense and the strong potential for infringement on the civil liberties of ordinary citizens demand that any proposed identity system undergo strict public scrutiny and a thorough engineering review,″ said Stephen Kent, chairman of the committee that wrote the report: ``IDs _ Not That Easy.″

Kent is chief scientist for information security at BBN Technologies, a research firm based in Cambridge, Mass.

National identity cards are used in some other countries but there is no common system, the report noted.

The committee was organized by the National Research Council, an arm of the academy. The National Academy of Science is an independent organization chartered to provide advice the government on scientific matters.


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