National identification systems have been proliferating in recent years as part of a concerted drive to find common identifiers for populations around the world. Whether the driving force is immigration control, anti-terrorism, electronic government or rising rates of identity theft, identity card systems are being developed, proposed or debated in most countries. However, there is no comprehensive database documenting the status of national identity card systems anywhere in the world, and this website has been designed in order to fill this gap.
The extraordinary capacity and processing power of advanced card technology now offers a realistic vision that one card cannot only provide more reliable methods of identification and authentication, but can also help the individual engage in a variety of verifiable and anonymous transactions. Cards are now not only forms of identification and transaction; they are also fully integrated ‘smart agents’ of data processing. They are, therefore, instruments of power, which might discriminate, infringe on civil liberties and contribute to the spread of surveillance. The fact that the manifestation of this policy instrument is confined to the individual’s pocket does not alter the larger set of relationships that still tend to be politically determined and that raise a complex range of social, economic, political, legal and technological issues.
Although there is strong evidence of a trend, both technological and political, towards establishing national identity card systems, this does not mean that the outcomes are similar everywhere. Identity card policy varies from country to country and this website allows its users to study and compare specific national policies regarding identity cards.
This website has been developed under The New Transparency Project, an MCRI project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The idea for the website comes from the book "Playing the Identity Card" recently edited by Colin Bennett and David Lyon, and published by Routledge (2008). The website is maintained and updated by a group of students and faculty from Queen's University and the University of Victoria.
Professor Colin Bennett's Personal Website can be found at:
Professor David Lyon's Personal Website can be found at:
Jonathan Floyd, Emily Smith, Pablo Ouziel and Iryna Matiyenko have collaborated on the development of this website.