How Smart Is It to Use Smart Cards?

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Tad Clarke's editorial ("Get Smart," July 20) reflects obligatory allegiance to the organization, with blindness and bias -- but that's what he gets paid to do. All marketing ideas can't be good for the country. More insight and caution are needed here.

He resents the power of privacy advocates; they KO'd New Jersey's smart card. That they are sensible should be appreciated. Loading a driver's license with "tons of information" and "services" is a setup for a catastrophic disaster. We are already excessively vulnerable to assaults on our privacy and to theft of our identities. Employees of banks, credit-card companies and retail stores have access to (or sell) our Social Security numbers, our mothers' maiden names, our PINs, our credit card numbers and more.

Let's give thieves more than they already can get from our driver's licenses: sport license numbers, unemployment benefits, welfare information, credit card services and cash value so the "smart cards" can be used at ATMs. Let's enable thieves to steal everything: our identities, our credit, our cash, our benefits.

Belief that PINs are secure is unfounded. And using one PIN as the key to much more than a credit card is negligent, if not foolish. Kenneth Starr isn't the only one who can find out what sleaze books you've been reading.

Smart cards threaten more than privacy; they should be called "doomsday cards." With them you stand a good chance of losing your credit, your cash and your identity. Why not increase the stakes by loading them with our entire medical histories! I suspect smart-card proponents are motivated less by the joys of information and more by the prospect of selling space on the cards to credit-card companies, government agencies, banks and more.

Joe Luciano

Rapid City, SD

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