Monday, June 12, 2017

Do You Know Who You Are?

Did I get your attention?  I'm positive that you're quite certain of who you are.  More to the point, do governments know who you are?  As the world transforms itself into a lock-down state because of fear, it becomes important to have proper documentation of your identity.  Citizens of the US, with their cherished doctrine of personal freedom, have for years resisted the idea of a national identity card, something that is common throughout the rest of the world.  It appears that resistance has been futile.  The question now remains, what form will a national ID take?

While a Social Security number (SSN) currently functions more or less as a national ID, it is really just a series of numbers issued for tax purposes.  When you are issued the SSN, you are also issued a card, but it's a card that is easily destroyed and more or less easily duplicated.  It's the numbers which are unique to the holder, and the numbers can, and have been, easily acquired by hackers.  Drivers' licenses issued by individual States have generally been an acceptable form of identification for most things, but as more and more states issue drivers' licenses to non-citizens, they are no longer acceptable for all purposes, notably for travel outside the 48 States.  Birth certificates are good and useful, but who walks around with a certified copy of their birth certificate?

It is more important than ever the you have a passport and that you keep it current.  Friends were recently denied boarding on a flight to Europe because their passports expired less than 6 months after the date of their scheduled return.  Other clients of mine have been scurrying about trying to get proper identification documents at the last minute for a cruise to Alaska, roundtrip from Seattle, which called at only US ports.  They found it difficult to understand that merely being in international waters was reason enough to have a passport.  Of the 308 million-plus citizens in the United States, only 30% have passports. Simply your one of them!