Building trust in having a digital identity for a secure future
The importance of a secure and reliable identification system as part of economic and infrastructure development cannot be overstated. Digital IDs and biometric technology offer a path towards efficient and trustworthy processes, such as voting during elections, access to government services, and financial transactions.
However, misconceptions surrounding biometric technology often create scepticism and resistance to providing personal information. Particularly in developing countries – where exposure to identity technology is limited, it’s vital to educate citizens about the value of digital IDs. Governments can build trust in biometric technology by dispelling common misconceptions and explaining the long-term benefits.
The benefits of digital IDs for governments and citizens
Digital identification systems provide individuals with a unique and tamper-proof identity. They enable streamlined access to various services, including healthcare, education, banking, and voting. For the private and public sectors, multimodal biometric systems can enhance security, reduce fraud, and increase efficiency.
Biometrics for a credible voting process
Biometric voter registration and verification can help ensure the integrity of elections. Secure software prevents voter fraud, impersonation, and multiple voting. By linking each voter to their unique biometric characteristics, such as fingerprints or iris scans, it becomes nearly impossible to manipulate the system.
This fosters trust in the electoral process and strengthens the democratic foundations of a nation. This was Ghana’s Electoral Commission’s intention when it commissioned Laxton to implement a credible Elections Management System for their National Elections in 2020.
Misconceptions surrounding biometric identity
Despite the numerous benefits, apprehension about moving from a manual to a digital ID system is often a significant challenge. Some of the common misperceptions include:
Invasion of privacy: Many individuals worry that using biometric data infringes upon their privacy rights. However, it is crucial to note that biometric data is typically encrypted and follows stringent privacy protocols. Moreover, biometric systems generally operate on a match-on-device or match-on-card basis, where the data remains on the user’s device or identity card, ensuring data security.
Vulnerability to hacking: There is a fear that biometric systems can be hacked, compromising the security of personal information. While no system is entirely immune to hacking, organisations and governments invest significant resources in ensuring the security of biometric data. Advanced encryption techniques, secure storage, and robust authentication protocols are implemented to mitigate potential risks.
Exclusion of marginalised communities: Some argue that biometric technology might exclude specific individuals, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, or those with unique physical characteristics. However, modern biometric systems are designed to accommodate diverse populations, including variations in physical attributes. User-friendly interfaces and adaptable technologies address this concern and ensure inclusivity.
Laxton’s mobile Identity Registration Kits make any environment an enrolment station. Registration officers can travel to rural areas with limited infrastructure, such as Internet and electricity. This means all citizens can receive their National ID cards and access services they were previously excluded from.
Building trust in the security of biometric technology
To foster confidence in biometric technology, organisations and governments can implement several strategies:
Education and awareness: Launching comprehensive awareness campaigns to educate citizens about the benefits, security measures, and privacy safeguards of biometric technology is crucial. These campaigns should address misconceptions and provide clear, transparent information to build trust.
Collaboration and stakeholder engagement: Governments, technology companies, civil society organisations, and relevant stakeholders should collaborate to develop and implement biometric systems. This inclusive approach helps build trust, ensures accountability, and considers diverse perspectives.
Robust legal and regulatory frameworks: Establishing strong legal and regulatory frameworks that govern biometric data collection, storage, and use is essential. These frameworks should emphasise privacy protection, data security and provide avenues for citizens to exercise their rights.
Transparent implementation: Governments and organisations must be transparent about their intentions, processes, and systems when deploying biometric technology. Clear communication regarding the purpose, benefits, and security measures will help alleviate concerns and build confidence among citizens.
By educating the public about the value of digital IDs and implementing transparent and secure systems, organisations and governments can pave the way for a future where biometric technology is trusted, inclusive, and empowers individuals.