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View Diary: Do you have your birth certificate? (250 comments)

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  •  Iceland (10+ / 0-)
    maybe like Iceland (i think) where every citizen just gets one number and that's their voter id, drivers licence, SS equivalent, bank account, everything.
    Except for bank account, that's correct - the kennitala.  :)  (though bankers can look up your accounts with your kennitala!)  But you left off the best parts:

    1) It's a public ID number; it distinctly is not to be used as a password.  You have you use a password or other real security when you need security.  The immediate benefit of this is that you can give out your number freely and everyone from the medical records department to the cashier at your local Húsasmiðján can key you up without putting you at risk for identity theft or having personal data stolen.  Giving a cashier your kennitala isn't going to, say, let them browse your tax data.

    2) It's tied to a verifiable physical address where you live, and anyone can look that up (sort of like an official digital phone book).  So for any important transaction using your kennitala, you get mailed about it.  Which makes identity theft even more implausible.

    I've never heard of identity theft up here - it would be absurdly hard.

    But yeah, it's so great having a single number which everyone uses as keys to their database.  I walk in somewhere - say, a doctor's office I've never been to - and walk up to the woman at the counter.  The conversation goes like this:

    Her: "Góðan daginn."
    Me: "Góðan dag."
    Her: "Kennitala?"
    Me: "300680-3999" (yes, that's my actual kennitala - as mentioned, it's a public number, anyone can see it)
    Her: (typing it in) "Karen?"
    Me: "Já."

    And bam, like that, when I go to see the doctor, he has all of my medical records.  Then when he figures out what medicine he needs to give, he types it in their computer system.  I go straight from the doctor's office to any pharmacy in the country (no calling in advance, no requesting a prescription), walk right up to the counter, and give them my kennitala.  They verify my info, and a couple minutes later I have my medicine.  

    The US system is patently absurd.  I mean, we're a country of only 320 thousand people and we apparently can develop (or adapt) the software to do it.  Are people going to tell me that the US, a country of a thousand times as many people, doesn't?  There is a thing called "economies of scale" here, you only have to write the software and make a database system one time whether it's for 310 million people or 320 thousand people.

    •  The US is behind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sixeight120bpm, ladybug53

      We still are arguing about direct deposit of paychecks and other funds.

      •  Which I find hilarious. (4+ / 0-)

        Physical checks basically don't exist up here.  I don't think it's even possible to get them.  Nowhere would accept them.  Our banks are full-featured with everything controllable online - think Paypal, without the fees, everyone has an account, and you even have an inbox for messages and the like (for example, instead of getting paper bills and wage statements, they just show up in the "rafræn skjöl" (digital documents) folder).  My bills for everything (and I mean everything) automatically show up in the "ógreiddir reikningar" (unpaid bills) folder, and I pay them just by selecting them and typing in my pin.  Also charities can use the list to add optional things that you can select to donate (they show up in a separate, optional section, and you can opt out if you prefer not to see them).  

        To give a sense of what it means, one day I had an electrician connect my oven, and when he was done I realized I couldn't find my purse.  No problem.  I just pulled out my cell, popped up my bank's website (there's also apps), he gave me his account number, and I direct transferred him his fee.  You can do this sort of thing with anyone, anywhere, any time.  To the point that I caused confusion one day when I asked a coworker who was collecting donations to buy a birthday gift for another coworker if he could wait for me to run to the ATM.  The confusion was because, of course you don't give cash, you just send it to the guy's bank account!

        Oh, and don't get me started on how much pathetically easier taxes are here than in the US.  The government already has all your info, it pops up online when you log in.  You just click to confirm the different sections (or change something if you disagree), click to submit, and you're done.  

        Grr, still need to do my US taxes...

    •  I think the main problem in the US... (4+ / 0-)

      is that we have a relatively weak federal government and 50 different states with 50 different procedures for handling these things. 50 states with wildly different ideas about how these things should be done, and what the government should be able to do in the first place. Our diversity is, in this case, our greatest weakness.

      We have two and a half centuries worth of programs stacked on top of each other and a population conservative enough to block ANY change no matter how it might simplify things. We can't even go two months without getting within hours of shutting down the government, can't get sensible gun control passed, can't get reasonable debate on ANY issue... our system is tragically broken.

      "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." -Henry Ford

      by sixeight120bpm on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:40:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ps: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mchristi314, ladybug53

      thanks for the info, I remembered reading your excellent diary on the subject, but not the specifics. Sure would be nice if the US could catch up in some of these areas.

      "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." -Henry Ford

      by sixeight120bpm on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:45:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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