What is a “Biometric National ID Card?”
A biometric national identity card is a portable document, typically a plasticized card with digitally-embedded information such as full name, age, birth date, address, religion, citizenship status along with a unique number and biometric identity profile that someone is encouraged or required to carry as a means of confirming their identity. To identify illegal immigrants, illegal workers, and strengthen border security, many government entities are concentrating on issuing biometric national identity cards for all their citizens. Throughout the last couple of years biometric national identification card programs have launched in several Asia Pacific countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Brunei. In fact, over 100 countries have deployed biometric national identification card initiatives to modernize their national identification databases and include biometric identifiers that authenticate or confirm identity based on physical characteristics such as fingerprints, iris, face, palm prints, and DNA. Typically the reasons behind issuing these biometric national identification cards are:
• An increase in the number of illegal immigrants all over the world resulting in additional requests for proof of identity
• Forgery of simple photographic identification cards has become simpler with accessibility to low-cost, high-resolution printers and scanners along with photo editing software. Traditional identity cards are easier to fake as they often do not have the same level of security measures as biometric identification documents
• Enhanced efficiency within disbursements through identity verification of beneficiaries and greater transparency within the transfer process
Countries Benefitting through Adoption of Biometric National Identity Cards
National biometric identification systems have been deployed in many countries around the world. Identification schemes may vary by country but the general premise is that a unique ID number is given to all individuals which can be used for a wide range of identification purposes. Here are examples of countries that have deployed biometric national ID cards and what impact they have on individual identification:
• Malaysia - Malaysia is the very first country in the world to make use of biometric enabled identification cards that contain both fingerprint biometric information and photo identification built into an embedded computer chip on the card. This identification card is known as MyKad, a compulsory identity document for all Malaysian residents ages 12 and above. This identification card is utilized for proof of citizenship other than a birth certificate, and may also serve as a public key, valid driver`s license, an electronic purse, and an ATM card, among other applications.
• India - The Government of India has embarked on an aggressive campaign to issue a 12-digit Unique Identification Number (Aadhaar) to all the residents of India. Biometric information such as iris and fingerprints are stored in a microchip embedded within the card. From January 2009 to September 2013 around 500 million residents were enrolled and during this period around and approximately Rs. 35 billion has been spent on the Aadhaar program. Traditional paper-based or plastic identity cards were easily reproducible with fake and modified information and to prevent identity theft and identity fraud the Government of India has adopted this biometric based national ID system.
• Indonesia – The Indonesia government has adopted the world`s most aspiring biometric-based national identity card project costing approximately $600 million with the goal of to provide 172 million citizens a national id card by the end of 2014. Citizen’s fingerprints, irises and faces were captured as images with biometric devices and these personal identification attributes were stored as a record inside each electronic national identity card (e-KTP) that can be used for a wide range of purposes such as tax and financial matters, voter registration, passport issuance, and much more.
The level of security used in biometrics is not available in other technologies due to the uniqueness of human physiological characteristics. Biometric national identification cards can only be used by the recipient they were intended for so if it`s stolen or lost, untrusted parties can`t do any harm to the owner because the information stored inside the card can`t be shared or copied.
Through a biometric national identity card system governments can make sure that social and welfare benefits are equally and fairly distributed to the right people to help stop fraud and waste and establish a concrete audit trail for each transaction. Moreover, governments can minimize corruption by adopting a biometric national ID card program and save millions of dollar as it can be used as a ubiquitous identification solution linked to other departments such as law enforcement, healthcare, ration, public registry, and immigration. More and more countries will be demanding biometric national identification card schemes in near future. What do you think about the acceptance rate of a biometric national identity card program? Please share your thoughts in comments.
About Author: Ekhlas Uddin Jewel is the Sr. Executive - SEO/SEM/PPC in M2SYS Technology, a recognized industry leader in biometric identity management technology. M2SYS continues to innovate, build and bring to market leading-edge biometrics solutions that revolutionize the industry and expand the applicability of biometrics technology in the marketplace.
BDST: 2050 HRS, APR 17, 2014