Your Phone As Your ID

The Student Survey

When I was in college… all those years ago… we had paper identification. It didn’t even have my picture on it. It was just kind of assumed that if you had the identification you were who it said you were – end of story. When my niece went to college five years ago, her card had all the security features of the identification needed to get into Area 51 and then some. I still don’t quite understand why. Are there thousands of fake college students lined up to get 10 percent off a ticket to a basketball game?

Anyway, identification in pretty much all facets of life have become more secure. Even my library card has a barcode and will perhaps one day have a QR code, though probably 10 years after anyone uses them. 

What interests me about this article is twofold. First, it seems strange to me that the first generation to grow up with identity theft being a very real, very dangerous thing is okay with putting any identification on their phone seems odd. Second, these kids are the future, which leads me to believe that this digitization of identification is the future as well. 

In the article, the author states that one piece of rationale used when discussing the desire to have phones as ID is that students will notice when phones are lost, but will not necessarily notice when their ID card is missing. To this I would simply state that these students have also grown up in a world where computer hacking is a daily occurrence, and one which is only increasing. Entire organizations, such as Anonymous, are gaining members and popularity as they hack into some of the most secure networks in the world. Why the students in this study are not concerned with phone hacking, which, along with car hacking, is becoming a very real threat, is beyond me. 

Or maybe I’m just old.

The second concern I have pervades everything I think about technology and may be the result of too many science fiction movies and books in my time, but it is a very real concern and a valid one, if I do say so myself. The concern is that, with everything being digital, everything is able to be manipulated or stolen entirely. Whereas in the good ole days a criminal had to sift through my garbage to steal my identity, it would seem a good enough actor could actually assume my identity, doing things like uploading his picture or fingerprints to my identification. 

Or maybe I’m just paranoid. Or old. Or right.

The fact is, this study concerns me partly because I have enough experience in my life to know two things: college students don’t know anything and one bad apple spoils the bunch. I know the first thing because I was one, and I know the second thing because I’ve known some bad apples. What works well on paper should, in this case, be left to paper.

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