Invasion of privacy is one of the issues that have taken center stage in the 21st century. This has mostly been a result of the technological advances, which have meant that invading individual privacy by the government is feasible. A particularly contentious issue with regard to privacy in the U.S. is the introduction of a uniform identification process using the ID card system. While proponents of the same see it as a means to help curb crime, opponents see it as the first step to the formation of a police state. This paper shall compare and contrast the ideas expressed by Alan Ehrenhalt in his essay “The Misguided Zeal of the Privacy Lobby” with the ideas of Barbara Dority in her essay “Halt and Show Your Papers!
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Ehrenhalt’s main argument is that in these modern times, privacy is overrated, and people are privacy obsessed and therefore refuse to see the advantages that the ID cards would bring to the U.S. Ehrenhalt further accuses the majority of the public of overreacting and branding the ID card as a tool for transforming our democratic state into a totalitarian one without any real evidence. Dority, on the other hand, claims that ID cards would indeed the precursor to our country becoming a totalitarian one. She indicates that individuals are not wary enough of the risk to their privacy that ID cards hold, and as such, there is a likelihood that the ID card system may become a reality with negative repercussions on our privacy as citizens.
A major difference between the two authors is that while Ehrenhalt insists that people are overreacting when they claim that a national ID would result in privacy invasion, Dority asserts that the threat of national ID presents the greatest threat to personal freedom in U.S. history. Ehrenhalt argues that it is paranoid to assume that the ID system will result in a police state since there is little connection between ID cards and democracy or dictatorship. Dority, on the other hand, declares that the ID card system will inevitably result in an increase in police power, therefore leading to the dreaded Orwellian society.
Another difference that is evident in the two essays is the perception of the two authors as to the usefulness of the ID system. While Ehrenhalt hails the ID card system as the means through which the federal government will save billions, Dority derides it as an expensive enterprise whose real benefits are non-existent. Ehrenhalt articulates that the government losses up to $5 billion in tax losses from fake identities. Dority, on the other hand, reveals that ID cards will cost the U.S. $3billion to implement with few benefits accrued.
However, there are issues on which Ehrenhalt and Dority agree in their respective essays. Both authors agree that privacy invasion by the government is a very real threat. Ehrenhalt admits that governments such as the German Nazi and the KGB collected data on citizens and used it for oppressive purposes. Dority, on the other hand, declares that by letting the government have an individual’s detailed information through the ID system, it will be easier for the country to be turned into a police state.
This essay set out to compare the essay by Ehrenhalt and Dority so as to highlight their similarities and differences. From the discussion presented herein, it is clear that the two essays both support different stances on the ID card issue. This essay has articulated Ehrenhalt’s reasons for supporting the ID card system as well as Dority’s reasons for denouncing the implementation of the same in the U.S. This paper has also shown that despite their different opinions, both authors agree that individual privacy is important.