Press Release

RELEASE: The ID Divide

Addressing the Challenges of Identification and Authentication in American Society

Read the full report (pdf) 

WASHINGTON, DC – The Center for American Progress today released a report that explores the background of the issue of identification and authentication in American society, including the sharp rise in recent years in how often Americans are asked for proof of identity. The report then examines the facts of the ID Divide in detail, identifying at least four important types of problems:

· A large population affected by identity theft and data breaches

· The growing effects of watch lists

· Specific groups that disproportionately lack IDs today

· The effects of new and stricter ID and matching requirements

These problems raise clear reasons for caution about implementing identification systems, which often have large, negative effects on those on the wrong side of the ID Divide. When systems need to be implemented, these problems show the great importance of designing systems with policies to address them. The report argues that a strong set of progressive principles for identification systems (see sidebar below) must first determine whether to create the system at all; and if so, how to do it. Those decisions would be based on:

· Real security or other goals

· Accuracy

· Inclusion

· Fairness and equality

· Effective redress mechanisms

· Equitable financing for systems

The approach developed in the report favors well-designed identification systems where they are carefully implemented and in the common interest. Design of identification systems should take full account of the Progressive Principles. If that occurs, then the problems of the ID Divide will become far more manageable.

Read the full report (pdf)

Identification and Authentication Resources page