The Biometric ID Grid: A Country-by-Country Guide
by James Corbett
January 31, 2017
In last week’s report on India’s demonetization disaster I began to connect the dots between demonetization, the push for a cashless society, and the biometric identification schemes that will eventually tie everyone’s fingerprints, iris scans, and other identifying details to every transaction they ever make.
Well, that game of “connect the dots” just became even easier to play.
First, it was reported last week that a key panel advising the government on its implementation of the “digital payments ecosystem” (that is being pushed and funded by USAID) is now recommending that India links its national biometric ID database directly to tax returns.
And now comes word that India is “working on a biometrics-backed payment system that will be connected to a user’s unique ID number, or Aadhaar.” (Who could have seen that coming?)
No, it doesn’t take a Nostradamus to understand where this is all heading: From the cashless society and the biometric ID grid to the cashless biometric grid. And we already know about the cashless society. Now it’s time to collect the data on the biometric ID grid.
And let’s not be naive: As I’ve demonstrated before, this is a coordinated plan to institute a worldwide biometric id system to track every human on the planet.
But given how fast and furious these new biometric databases are coming online, no one person can possibly keep track of them all. That’s why I’m calling on Corbett Report members to help assemble this information. Like last year’s open source investigation into the War on Cash, this country-by-country guide will be updated with input from the Corbett Report community. Members of the site are invited to log in and leave links to information about the biometric ID grid in their country in the comments section below.
The Biometric ID List
Australia – Australia has been issuing biometric passports since 2005 and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has been running biometrics collection centres for years to issue visas tied to visitors’ biometric details. But now, Australia is about to lead us into a Brave New World with a world first: The DIBP is going to introduce the first “self-processing system” for travelers at Australian airports later this year using biometric details instead of a passport. Australian schools have implemented fingerprint scans as a method of tracking attendance at schools despite a strong backlash from parents that led to similar programs being suspended in the past.
Canada – Under NEXUS, the joint Canada-US “preferred traveler” program, iris scans are used to identify passengers. In 2015 the Canadian government expanded biometric screening, including fingerprints and digital photos, to visitors from all 151 visa-required countries.
Chad – The European Union is funding a program in Chad to register the biometric details of refugees and returnees fleeing war-torn neighboring countries.
Finland – Finland introduced biometric residence permit cards in 2012. The cards include a chip that stores a digital photograph and two fingerprints.
France – France has issued only biometric passports since 2009. The passport requires the collection of a biometric digital photo and eight fingerprints.
Germany – Germany introduced biometric passports in 2005 and biometric residence permits in 2011, both of which require a biometric digital photograph and two fingerprints to be collected and stored on an embedded chip. Germany’s identity card does require a biometric photo, but so far fingerprint collection is optional.
Greece – In compliance with the dictates of Washington, the Greek government is set to issue new biometric IDs this year. As Greek Report notes: “Failure to create the new IDs in a timely manner could lead to a suspension in the visa-free travel to the US that Greeks currently enjoy.”
India – India has been fingerprinting and iris scanning its population for years in its quest to construct the largest biometric ID database in the world. The plan to collect and store biometric details on all 1.2 billion Indian citizens is proceeding apace, and has so far registered over 1.1 billion people, including over 99% of all Indians over 18.
Iraq – In 2016 the Iraqi government began a national identity card system that uses biometric identifiers. This system has been widely criticized for legally allowing discrimination of minorities.
Israel – In 2009 the Knesset enacted the controversial Biometric Database Law to pave the way for the implementation of a national biometric ID database. Last July it was reported that the “pilot program” had come to an end and all Israeli residents would be forced to register their biometric details with the government. In December it was announced that the mandatory implementation of the database was being delayed and that fingerprints may no longer be required.
Japan – In 2007 the Japanese government began requiring fingerprints and digital photographs from all foreign travelers. Now, the government is considering implementing a biometric ID payment system which will “allow” (sic) tourists to “register their fingerprints or finger vein patterns among other personal information with the service and then deposit a set amount of money in a connected account,” from which they can make purchases while in the country.
Kenya – In 2012 Kenya began biometric voter registration and in 2015 the government implemented a biometric registration system for all citizens aged 12 and over. The registration includes fingerprint collection and is tied to a national database.
Luxembourg – In accordance with EU standards Luxembourg issues biometric passports with a chip containing a digital photograph, two fingerprints and an image of the holder’s signature.
Netherlands – Since 2009 the Netherlands has issued biometric passports containing an embedded chip with a digital photograph and fingerprints. Four Dutch citizens challenged the legality of the practice of collecting fingerprints but it was approved by the European Court of Justice. Although only two fingerprints are stored on the passport’s chip, four fingerprints are taken and stored by the local government in a central database that is also used to pursue criminal investigations.
New Zealand – New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department rolled out “Voice ID” in 2011 to register “customers’” voice prints and identify them in future interactions. By 2015 1.4 million of the country’s 6.1 million taxpayers had registered their voice prints with the “service.”
Nigeria – Nigeria is contracting with Bio-Metrica to collect citizens’ fingerprint and facial biometrics for the nation’s 2018 census.
Sierra Leone – Just last week the Sierra Leone government confirmed receipt of 4,066 biometric registration kits that will be used to register voters for the 2018 elections. The aim is to construct a single, biometric voter register “that will capture every resident in Sierra Leone.”
South Korea – In 2012 the Korean government began collecting fingerprints and digital photographs of all foreign visitors (except foreign government officials/international organization representatives and their accompanying immediate family members as well as persons under 17 years of age).
Switzerland – Switzerland launched its biometric passport in 2010 after a referendum was held to approve the measure. The referendum passed with 50.14% of the vote, making it one of the closest referendums in Swiss history. The passports adopt the “international standard” of collecting two fingerprints (one from each index finger) and a digital photograph of the holder’s unsmiling face.
Ukraine – A law passed by the Yanukovych government in 2012 requires all Ukrainian citizens, regardless of age, to obtain a biometric passport.
United Kingdom – The UK under the Labour government of Tony Blair and later Gordon Brown attempted to implement a national identity register and ID card system that would have required the logging of an extensive amount of personal and biometric information in a central database. However, the program caused waves of protest and the government eventually gave in to the public outcry, scrapping the plan for the national registry and instead only implementing the biometric id scheme for foreign nationals. The UK does issue biometric passports and recent polling suggests UK adults “are now willing to embrace biometric identity for online banking.”
United States – President Trump’s new Executive Order on “terrorist” (sic) entry calls on the Department of Homeland Security to “expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States.” (This comes as no surprise to those who warned that Trump’s transition team was swarming with biometric industry workers and lobbyists.) The United States already takes digital fingerprints of all foreign tourists (except Canadians) and stores them in a database for 75 years. The DoD has announced plans to replace Common Access Card access to information systems with biometric authentication. The US issues biometric passports and coordinates with the Canadian government on the biometric NEXUS preferred traveler program (see Canada).
Zimbabwe – The government of Zimbabwe has ruled out biometric or electronic voting in the country’s 2018 elections, but will proceed with biometric voter registration this year.
1 thought on “The Biometric ID Grid: A Country-by-Country Guide”
I think Nigeria has a law requiring fingerprints to register a SIM card with any carrier. Possibly other African states have similar requirements