Open Access: Too Personal Identical

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courtesy CNIB

A couple of months ago my husband and I went to Stone Road Mall to get him a new cell phone. He didn’t want anything fancy, he just wanted a basic flip phone. Those are hard to find nowadays, but should be more easily available. Not everyone feels the need or the desire to own a smartphone.

He expressed an interest in seeing what Telus had to offer, and they had exactly what he wanted. When they asked for some photo ID to verify the purchase, that’s when things got really interesting. They accepted his CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) photo ID, as this had his name, address, photo, and signature on it. What more would they need? When I got my iPhone from Bell, they insisted the ID had to be Government issued. The CNIB is an NGO. My husband, a Vietnam Veteran, is of the belief that while preventing Identity Theft is important, one should not require Government Identification for something as mundane as a cell phone. It’s a phone, not clearance to a secret research facility. I’ve also had similar issues with Canada Post. Workers are the postal outlets do not know how to handle CNIB cards, and yet they are a valid form of ID to show when picking up a package. I know, as I am one o the people who lobbied to make it so.

It is widely accepted in society that people own drivers licenses. What people don’t take into consideration is that if a person owns a CNIB card, it’s probably a good thing that they don’t own a driver’s license. Not all of us have the vision to drive, and for some non-drivers, there are factors other than vision. I have a couple of friends who feel they don’t have the reflexes, or the “coolness” to drive. By this I mean that they understand they’d be road rage personified if someone gave them control of a motor vehicle. I could spend days writing about the reasons why people choose not to drive.

My husband and I completely understand Government ID when it comes to things like registering to vote, getting a passport, and applying for employment. However, for every day identify verification when making purchases, other forms of photo ID should suffice. CNIB cards would work, University ID’s are another idea. Often people who are landed immigrants, on temporary Visas, or waiting for their citizenships to come through can take issue with the idea of government ID, because they fear profiling. They are not trying to hide everything, they just feel centred out. In the current political situation I completely understand. My husband was born in the USA, and we follow American news as closely as we follow what’s happening here.

As a hippie who was plucked from his happy hippie habitat in the Haight-Ashbury district of California in the 1960’s, and sent to Vietnam to kill people who weren’t his enemies, my husband has a general mistrust for government, and I can’t say I blame him. When I told him certain stores require government ID, his first question was at which point did this turn into the early stages of George Orwell’s 1984? We have freedom in Canada, but there is absolutely no need to take that freedom for granted. While a government ID may be an easy fallback for just about everything, there are people out there who feel that government ID should be reserved only for government issues. A good example is that it is against the law for people to ask to see our OHIP cards. For my international readers, OHIP stands for Ontario Health Insurance Plan, our health cards. There are plenty of places where people are not allowed to take OHIP cards as a form of ID. In the case of the general Ontario government ID, it should be the choice of the card holder. I’d like to not have to show government ID to buy a phone. If you wish to show it, by all means do so, but for those who wish to keep the government out of our everyday lives, other forms of photo ID should suffice.

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