ID card anthropology

When Belgian children turn 12, they'll receive a smartcard and a reader from the government. Americans would regard this program as an Orwellian intrusion. For Belgians, it's a way to help protect kids without necessarily compromising their privacy. One of the first uses of the youth eIDs will be to prove age to age-restricted websites. How that's done is a matter of choice, but there's no technical requirement to fully disclose identity and a strong cultural preference not to. Kids will only need only prove (by authenticating to the card) that they are citizens, and prove (by selectively disclosing their birthdate) that they meet the age requirement. [Full story at]

Last time I had dinner with Phil Windley, we compared driver's licenses: his from Utah, mine from New Hampshire. On a recent trip to Guadalajara for the ICA conference, delegates from Belgium and Malta showed me their national ID cards. Someone could write a fascinating cross-cultural study based on identity documents: what information they do or don't contain, how they're used.

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