Ellison offers free software for national ID

Oracle Corp. Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison has called for a national identification card to be issued to all U.S. citizens to help prevent future terrorist attacks. To help build such a system, Ellison has reportedly offered to give the necessary software to the U.S. government for free.

In an interview with San Francisco television station KPIX on Friday, Ellison said the U.S. government should issue a national ID card that contains a photograph and digitized thumbprint for each U.S. citizen, according to a transcript of the interview. When presented to airport security officials, the information contained in the ID cards would be verified with information stored on a centralized database, ensuring the accurate identification of airline passengers, Ellison said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

There has been an ongoing debate in the U.S. during recent years regarding the creation of a national ID card system, based on Social Security numbers, that would include a centralized computer-based registry of all U.S. citizens. While some government officials have advocated the creation of such a system as a means of curtailing illegal immigration in the U.S., organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have repeatedly voiced opposition to the plan.

Debate over the creation of a national ID card system has been renewed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. and revelations that the terrorists involved may have used stolen or forged identification documents.

Oracle officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Privacy advocates also couldn't be reached at deadline. However, as Congress prepares to consider the Bush administration's Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in a statement urged Congress to carefully consider any legislation that could significantly erode a person's constitutional rights. The Washington-based EPIC and 150 other organizations said there is a "need to consider proposals calmly and deliberately with a determination not to erode the liberties and freedoms that are at the core of the American way of life."

Computerworld senior writer Linda Rosencrance contributed to this report.

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