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National Identification Card (Sierra)

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National Identification Card
Sierran National ID obverse reverse
Front and back side of the English-only version card with no hanzi
Date first issued 1933
Issued by Flag of Sierra Kingdom of Sierra
Valid in All CAS member states
Type of document Identity card
Purpose Identification
Eligibility requirements Sierra nationality and family register
Expiration Must be renewed every 10 years
The National Identification Card (abbreviated as the NIC, and also referred to as the National ID Card, the family register card, or simply, The Card) is a document containing a unique 10-digit alphanumeric token-based code and basic personal information, which is used for identification purposes in the Kingdom of Sierra. In addition, all NICs contain a 4-digit security code for security purposes. It is compulsorily issued to all Sierran citizens aged 18 and up, and must be renewed every 10 years. In almost all cases, a citizen will have the same NIC for life with few exceptions, such as being issued an already existing NIC number, or being a victim of identity theft. It is distinct from the similar but unrelated Social Security number (SSN). The NIC is interrelated with the Sierran family register, a registry database which requires every household to report and compile family information and events including births, deaths, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and residency changes. The NIC is required to access various public services (such as welfare and pension benefits), and to perform certain actions including voting, filing taxes, acquiring other identification cards (e.g. driver's license, passport), and opening bank accounts. A separate identification card is issued for non-citizens including permanent residents, foreign workers, and diplomats. The card is issued at the county-level in Sierra and Hawaii, and at the national level in the Deseret. The National Family Registry is responsible for storing, managing, and protecting NIC information and numbers, alongside family register information. Most cards are produced in English, which may or may not have paired Sierran hanzi. Some counties print cards in English as well as the cardholder's language of choice on both the front and reverse sides.

Although all K.S. citizens are required to maintain up-to-date NICs, in most cases, citizens are not required to be physically present with the cardholder at all times (certain individuals including registered sex offenders, released felons, and others are required to possess cards in public however). Generally speaking, failure to surrender a NIC when requested by relevant authorities, may yield alternative means for identification (such as a driver's license), or a refusal of service. The card is vital for law enforcement authorities in identifying suspects, and failure to surrender a NIC (or number) may result in additional charges. Intentional misuse or abuse of NICs is punishable by law, and failure to register or renew a NIC may result in statutory fines.

Since 1990, NICs have been automatically issued to previously non-cardholding citizens when their births or adoptions were registered into the Sierran family register, although NICs for minors are slightly different from their adult counterparts as they contain an additional string that identifies them with their parents or legal guardians. The 10-digit alphanumeric code issued in the minor's NIC is carried over to the adult NIC when the minor turns 18. Cards are also given to newly naturalized citizens, and are often presented to the cardholder shortly after making the oath of naturalization. Generally, NICs can be renewed whenever the family register has been updated either by the cardholder themselves or the family member responsible for updating the register. Most counties allow up to two renewals (ideally once every 3 ½ years) free of charge, after which each subsequent renewal is charged $20 to process. As a countermeasure to identity theft, each new card contains special biometric information which invalidates all previous cards from use. Old cards are encouraged to be returned to the state, which can be recycled and reprinted into new cards.

Since its introduction in 1933 alongside the family register, the NIC has been the subject of controversy and criticism. Instances of "card holdouts", or individuals who refused to register for a NIC, were prevalent as late a the 1970s nationwide, and continues today in small cases, mostly in the Styxie where opposition has historically been the fiercest. Supporters claim that the card serves as a universal and efficient means for government agencies and organizations across the nation to identify citizens, and allows agencies to share information if needed without directly needing the cardholder. Opponents have objected to the card and the family register for a variety of reasons including state invasion of privacy, unnecessary bureaucracy, and inconvenience for citizens who must be renew the card every five years.

History

National Family Registry

Seal of the National Family Registry, the public entity responsible for managing NICs and family registers. Note the simultaneous use of English and Sierran hanzi.

The National Identification Card traces its origins to the now defunct Department of Public Works, when it was known as the Public Services Card (PCS). The Department, which was established in 1933 during the Great Depression under the ministry of Poncio Salinas, was a response to the high unemployment and economic ruin that arose in light of the depression. The PCS was originally a government-issued card used for citizens on welfare benefits, meaning it was limited to only a segment of the population. The closely related family register system was introduced in 1935, and was inspired by the Chinese hukou and Japanese kokesi systems. By 1944, the Department of Public Works was absorbed into the Ministry of Commerce and Labor, and the PCS merged with the Social Security program. As many businesses and organizations began relying on the identification number used by the PCS (an example of function creep), the government created the NIC to meet this need, while segregating the Social Security number for welfare and pension purposes only. The card was formally established by the National Identification and Citizen Information Verification Act of 1945 (NICIVA), and Parliament required all adult citizens to register for a card by 1947 as government agencies and organizations would began to require cards for their services.

Initially, the introduction of the NIC proved unpopular among the general public, triggering widespread protests. A large movement of "card holdouts" emerged in the Styxie, defiantly resisting the use of cards. In 1946, the government delivered preregistered cards to military veterans, public employees, administrators, and others in its first phase of card distribution. By 1948, nearly all government agencies and some businesses required that citizens show proof of card possession, and card ownership rose exponentially. To further incentivize cardholding, the Royal Revenue Service (RRS) offered tax credit for cardholders, and the government began allowing low-income families to use the card as state-issued credit (akin to the modern EBT) to obtain food or cash. By the time all major universities and colleges began demanding proof of card possession in 1956, the card had become accepted by the mainstream public, and the NIC became an "essential necessity" as it served as a universal, all-purpose identification document for not only public services, but in the private marketplace and sector.

Before 1991, citizens did not generally receive their NICs until they turned 18. In some counties, NICs were processed and given to citizens as young as 14, although none were legally required by federal law to possess such cards until they reached the age of majority. Nonetheless, all children of citizens were still required to be reported in the family register to count as dependents for tax filing purposes by the RRS. Often, children were enrolled with either of their parents' ID numbers with a special letter to distinguish them apart, but such information was restricted to limited agencies. In 1991, Parliament passed an amendment to the NICIVA, known as the Citizen Information Verification Expansion Act (CIVEA), which ordered county governments to issue NICs to all minors. After this act passed, all K.S. born citizens were registered with NIC numbers after their births were formally reported on the family registers, although by 1995, virtually all doctors filed for card registration in lieu of the families, with or without consent. In the 1996 Supreme Court case Major v. County of Riverside, the Supreme Court upheld the practice and the law. The majority ruling held that doctors registering newborns with the card was as administratively sound as automatically issuing birth certificates. Adopted foreign children and permanent resident-status children were also required to be registered, if and only if one of their parents or legal guardians were K.S. citizens, because by extension, they were treated as full-fledged citizens. If neither of their parents were citizens, they were granted the equivalent, relevant cards for their status (green card or minor's residency card).

Eligibility, purpose, and use

The National Identification Card is issued to all K.S. citizens regardless of age, starting when they are first registered in a connected family register. Virtually all natural-born citizens born during or after 1995 have been automatically issued NICs at birth when federal law was changed in 1991 requiring all ages to register with a NIC number. Although the law requires every citizen to have a NIC or NIC number, there are few exceptions to certain classes of individuals, most of which are on religious grounds (such as the Mennonite communities in Plumas), or ancestral connections (such as Native Hawaiians living on certain islands).

The general purpose of the NIC is to serve as a definite means of identification for every K.S. citizen. It is considered the most important form of documentation after the family register, and is authoritatively accepted at all levels and forms of Sierran government. Since each NIC card also features a security code, it is imperative that cardholders know both their NIC numbers and security code if they do not have their card, and do not possess any other forms of valid identification when such information is needed. Each NIC conveys basic information about the cardholder, and biometric information unique to each card (and number) that protects users against identity theft. Stolen physical cards can be deactivated by the original cardholder, and victims are generally issued a new card (with a new number). Use or input of deactivated numbers (which were marked as "stolen") may trigger warnings to local authorities who can track and locate the identity thief. Such feature has had limited use in tracking down fugitives and suspects, although all such instances have received controversy among civil rights advocacy groups.

Unregistered citizens are officially known as "undocumented citizens" although this is not necessarily mean that such citizens are not known to the state, or absent from government registries or databases. Nonetheless, undocumented citizens (excluding registration-exempt citizens) face difficulties in accessing various services, as well as economic opportunities, as practically all public services and governments demand NIC identification, and many businesses (excluding retail stores, gas stations, health clinics, and supermarkets in some PSAs by local law) also require proper identification with NICs or other IDs which can only be obtained by NICs first (such as work permits, passports, and driver's licenses).

Although these entities may require identification, some agencies work around this requirement by allowing undocumented citizens to "withhold" their non-existent NICs for a flat-rate fee. For businesses, it is up to the discretion of the merchant or seller if they wish to render service with or without evidence of the NIC. The law however, allows such establishments to refuse service to undocumented citizens who do not show proper ID upon demand (unless it is an essential service such as emergency care at hospitals or food at locations where EBT is accepted). In practice, showing a credit card or debit card implies the individual has a NIC as such cards are normally only obtainable by registering a NIC card to the companies. In most cases, credit or debit card purchases are sufficient enough for businesses to recognize as a form of "verification" on the cardholder's fault.

Newly issued cards or renewed cards may be granted after a citizen has been properly registered in their family register, or whenever their household family register has been updated. Family registers do not necessarily contain entire families per se. Family registers merely account for all citizens who live within the same household or unit (individual rooms in apartment complexes or other large housing structures). Consequently, some family registers may have unrelated individuals listed together, and some with family members in other households, and thus, placed on separate family registers. To circumvent this, each family register is also linked to a master genealogy register (MGR), which is compiled by the county government in documenting family trees and connections. The MGR is useful for courts and executive departments such as the RRS in determining family law, adoption cases, dependency status, marital disputes, and divorce cases. In most households, this is generally the breadwinner of the household, although most married couples opt for joint-executor status, allowing either one to update the register. Generally, one member listed on the family register is designated as the executor of the family register, and is expected to file and record all necessary events within the family register. In unrelated households, such as dormitory rooms or rental units, several people may be designated and recognized as executors.

Outside the Kingdom of Sierra, the card is valid as a means for identification throughout all member states in the Conference of American States through the American International Travel Identification Act of 2002. It is an acceptable form of identification at all airports and seaports within the St. Louis Area in lieu of a passport, although the K.S. Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to advise citizens to bring a passport with them whenever they go overseas, even if they go to a CAS member state within the St. Louis Area. Within the St. Louis Area, all participating member states accept the information on NICs for use on any permanent resident or foreign work visas, streamlining the process in obtaining such items or statuses.

Components

The National Identification Card currently consists of one letter and nine-digits. Contrary to popular belief, the initial letter is not determined by any factors of the cardholder, but is instead randomized, and may be one of the traditional 26 Latin characters found in English (A-Z). The last digit confirms the validity of the NIC number from the first eight digits by utilizing ISO 7064, MOD 11-2. The checksum can be determined as follows:

  1. Marking the Identity card number right-to-left a_1 , a_2 , \cdots , a_{9}a_1 for the parity-check codes;
  2. Weight coefficient calculation W_i=2^{i-1}\  \bmod \ {11};
i987654321
Wi 3791058421
  1. Calculation of S = \sum_{i=2}^{9} a_i \cdot W_i
  2. a_1=(12-( S \ \bmod 11)) \bmod 11

Each card includes personal information of the cardholder including their full name, biological sex, height, weight, eye color, and ethnicity. It also contains their personal signature, their, current residential address, and whether or not if they have any special health conditions or restrictions (such as vision impairment that requires glasses or correctional lenses). Depending on the county, additional information may be included such as their contact information and their military status. In addition to the personal information, a number of security features and designs are incorporated into the card, and the card is machine-readable. All cards are produced in compliance with ISO/IEC 14443. The material used in newer cards are plastic synthetic substrate, while older cards used heavily laminated paper cores. Most cards are issued in English, which may or may not utilize Sierran hanzi alongside it. In addition, cards may be issued in any of the six other official languages of Sierra, and ten others upon request of the cardholder, although all must be accompanied with English.

Family register

National Family Registry form (WIP)

A registration form to create a new family register.

The family register is an official record of all members within a household (usually a family), which includes documentation of major life events, including births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, deaths, and residency changes. Each household, regardless of size or familial relation, are required to maintain and update their family registers, which are closely related to NICs. Since NICs are now issued at birth, nearly all NICs today are issued to citizens once their birth has been formally recorded in their household's family register. One of the prerequisites to obtaining a NIC demands that the prospective cardholder is part of a family register either as a member or (one of) its executor(s). Executors are members within the household who are responsible for keeping the records updated, and ensuring that their county government receives them accordingly.

The family register was introduced the same year as the NIC (in 1933), and both are maintained by the National Family Registry. Since both are intimately linked, nearly all changes and renewals on NICs are reflected from changes made to the corresponding family register. Although NICs must be renewed every 10 years, NICs are renewed far more frequently due to mandated family register changes. When an executor has updated a family register, they have the option to receive updated NICs that may reflect circumstantial changes (such as residency changes), or to satisfy the renewal policy, free of charge. When an individual has moved to another household, their former executor must link their NIC to the former member's new household's family register. If they are the sole executor of their family register, they must designate another adult member in the household to become the new executor. If there are no other adult members in the household, they must transfer the executor role to a legal guardian as determined by a family court.

NIC and citizenship

Since 1991, all K.S. citizens, regardless of age, are required to have a personal NIC number, and all citizens over the age of 14 are required to possess a physical NIC. Although all citizens must have NICs, the National Family Registry estimates that between 200,000 to 600,000 eligible Sierran nationals are undocumented, and do not possess a NIC. Such nationals are usually citizens who have refused to put themselves on a family register, and/or refused to obtain a NIC. There is a growing number of elderly citizens who live by themselves (or with their spouse) that have gone "undocumented" as they failed to renew their NICs and their family registers. In such instances, community workers and local government officials have sought to reach out to elderly citizens in need of an executor (usually the elder's adult children). Other undocumented citizens, known as "card holdouts", have resisted cardholding out of political reasons.

Although the lack of a NIC does not necessarily constitute grounds for punitive acts, the lack of a NIC in certain circumstances will complicate identification and even jeopardize a citizen legally. In addition, the lack of NIC may prevent a citizen from obtaining government services, or conducting certain actions such as voting or driving (with the latter dependent on possessing the NIC-derived driver's license). NICs are useful indicators in a person's citizenship status, as only K.S. citizens may have NICs. Permanent residents, foreign workers, and refugees are required to possess other forms of mandated identification (green cards or work visas). All other individuals, including undocumented aliens, may be subject to deportation by virtue of possessing no forms of identification. There have been instances of K.S. natural-born citizens facing deportation (generally to Rainier or Texas) because they had no proof of identification, leaving them effectively "stateless" in the process as they are "dispossessed" of their citizenship. To avoid unilateral deportation, suspected undocumented citizens must undergo lengthy interrogation during their detention to determine their national status, and in most cases, are forced to create a family register and obtain a NIC.

Controversies and criticism

Since their introduction, the NIC and the family register have both been the subject of controversy and criticism. Although national identity cards exist worldwide, Sierra is currently the only Anglo-American country to feature one. Civil rights advocates point out that the card requirement unfairly denies citizens access to essential services and basic rights which are constitutionally guaranteed. In addition, privacy and anti-surveillance activists have claimed that the NIC and family register are intrusive of citizens' personal lives, and place families in abusive or estranged households in jeopardy due to legal obstacles associated with the NIC and family register (especially during custody battles or divorces). Others have pointed out the relatively weak security features on the NIC, allowing identity theft to ruin citizens financially and legally. The government has rolled out newer, more advanced features and procedures to address these concerns in recent years however.

Other criticisms have been made towards government inefficiency and the bureaucracy required to maintain NICs and family registers. Errors and backlogs of family registers waiting for reviews, as well as costs tied to producing more NICs have led to calls to either abolish the systems, or to fully digitalize them as some counties have now begun doing.

In September 2009, the NIC and family register systems faced widespread controversy. The McGivern family, a family of card holdouts from Plainsfield, San Joaquin, lost custody over their newborn son, Joshua, to the state when the local court declared Joshua as a "ward of the Crown". This arose when the McGivern's family doctor, Dr. Nishant Sharma, ordered a birth certificate soon after Joshua's birth at the Evergreen Community Hospital, and followed standard procedure in registering the newborn with a NIC. Rather than consult the family however, Dr. Sharma placed Joshua into his own family register as the sole member, and without a designated executor, since the McGiverns had no family register at all. By law, any children without a designated executor required a legal guardian as determined by the court. After two weeks, Child Protective Services forcibly took Joshua, as well as his two older siblings, from the McGiverns when the court found the family as "unfit" for parenting, by virtue for being card holdouts, which the court determined was "endangering the children's well-being". The McGiverns sued the County of Marshall for unilaterally taking custody over their child, and Dr. Sharma for taking action without their knowledge. The case, McGivern v. Marshall County, eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which ruled in a decision of 6–3, that any children born to non-cardholding parents without any other possible guardians should not be placed on a family register, nor receive a NIC. In addition, the Supreme Court ruled that the absence of any family register or NICs could not disenfranchise citizen's custody or parentage over their children if it was the prima facie reason for child neglect. The Court gave custody over all three children back to the McGiverns, and the McGiverns eventually registered for a family register and NICs after the case.

See also

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