Identity Crisis is a superb primer on identification, identification theory, and identity policy. Citizens and policy-makers faced with threats from international terrorists and a dramatic rise in identity fraud need a good grounding in the uses and abuses of identification in providing security and facilitating daily transactions. This book serves precisely that purpose.
Author Jim Harper makes an important distinction between identification and authentication. Differences between the two are nothing to be trifled with. The interests of personal security and privacy hinge upon whether or to what extent either identification or authentication are used by government, private entities, and everyday citizens. Harper persuasively argues that identification is all-too-often overused, and that a process of authentication can often serve our needs most effectively.
Most people have probably never given a thought to identification theory. That certainly holds for this reviewer--until I read this book. Identification is largely a common-sense matter, but Harper brings attention to the conceptual depth attendant to this subject.
Also interesting are Harper's chapters more narrowly focused on privacy and anonymity. Important legal and constitutional matters are briefly discussed, underscoring the need for appropriate identification policies and practices. Of course, this book is accessible to a general audience and is certainly not limited in its audience to lawyers or to any other specialty.
After reading the book, one gets the sense that there is a lot more to say about identification. But a lot of ground is traversed in this work, and the result is highly commendable. Identity Crisis is an important and recommended read.