The issue of identity cards is hotly debated in many countries, but it often seems to be an oddly backward-looking debate that presumes outdated “Orwellian” architectures. In the modern world, surely we should be debating the requirements for national identity management schemes, in which identity cards may or may not be a useful implementation, before we move on to architecture. If so, then, what should a U.K. national identity management scheme for the 21st century look like? Can we assemble a set of requirements understandable to politicians, professionals and the public? We’ve certainly had some difficulty to date. One reason might be that we lack a compelling, narrative vision. As a result, we’re constructing a legacy system that will subvert the rational goals of worthwhile scheme. We’re not aiming high enough.