The identity we can't change: a new wave of biometric policies around the world

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The identity we can't change: a new wave of biometric policies around the world
Presenter(s) Leandro Ucciferri, Amalia Toledo, Katarzyna Szymielewicz, Francisco Brito Cruz
Title(s)
Organization(s) Karisma, Panoptykon Foundation, InternetLab
Project(s)
Country(ies) Argentina, Colombia, Poland, Brazil, Venezuela
Social media @leandrotx, @ADC_Derechos, @InternetLabbr, @Panoptykon, @Karisma
2017 theme Internet Freedom: Present and Future

During this session, we are going to address how policies around the world that implement biometric technologies are being introduced and shaped through different contexts and discourses, and how the uses of biometric technologies could impact our rights to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

To do so, a group of experts, digital and human rights activists, will discuss what is the situation in each of their countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Poland, Brazil, and Argentina. Panelists will address possible advantages and disadvantages to the use of these technologies, and will exchange their approaches and experiences. On the other hand, session attendees will be encouraged to share their thoughts and the situation in their own contexts, in order to learn more about how this issues are being discussed around the world.

Format Panel Discussion
Target Groups
Length 1 hour
Skill Level Intermediate
Language English


Session Outputs

Situation in Venezuela: - Elections: fingerprints - State invested in machines that depend on fingerprints to operate, specially for daily transactions (for instance, for buying food) - People started to buy food in alternative markets but the price is much higher - No security standards - If you want to buy a new phone number, you need to leave your fingerprint - No information about what the government is doing with this information - if you vote with your fingerprint and you buy food with the fingerprint, there is a belief among people that the State will know about who they are voting for

Situation in Brazil (Francisco Brito Cruz - InternetLab) - Fingerprints: IDs in Brazil (there are a number of different documents issued by different authorities - passport, class/professional IDs, national ID cards, etc.); - There have been proposals to centralize identification data into a single national system - DNA: in case of heinous crimes, there is a dispute about the use of DNA information in courts - Facial recognition: - Private sector (banks collect fingerprints in substitution of magnetic cards and buildings require identification of visitors; such identification usually include pictures and fingerprints) - Brazil does not have an omnibus data protection law, which amounts to a great level of uncertainty with regard to how these data are being treated and used

Situation in Poland/Europe (Katarzyna) - Biometrics in passports (popular because of its "benefit": people believe it is more efficient because automated machines can read this information and let them go) - Proposals of including biometrics into national IDs - Immigrants/refugees are included into two different databases which include biometrical information - These data can be controlled by different authorities - Poland passed a questionable law increasing surveillance capacity - for "potential suspects", police officers are able to check/verify biometrical information - Trend of making people feel comfortable with biometrical information (ex: clubs). People associate it with efficiency and convenience. - Proposals to combine social security and other public services with biometrics - "Biometric city": integrate public services with biometrical information - Identification by voice: more security?

Situation in Colombia (Amalia - Fundación Karisma) - Birth certificates (registry) - After 18 years old, IDs are required (fingerprints are collected and stored in archived in databases that can be accessed by any public agencies) - Ex: Ministry of Agriculture requires a lot of biometrical information - Colombia has a data protection law but application of the law is questionable - Culture is that security measures are reasonable and justified - No information about what is done with the collected data - Foreigners: collect biometrical information (fingerprints). Amalia shares that government allegedly lost information and she was required to provide it again - IDs and biometrical data are required for transactions like exchanging money - No information about uses - Process of getting biometrical information from people who were undocumented

Q&A - Any good examples (best practices, States that deal with this information in a transparent way)? UN High Commission for Refugees - use biometrical information to keep track of refugees Data should be solely used for the purposes they were collected In Venezuela, the principle is that fingerprints prevent frauds in elections (each person can vote only once). After the election, it is erased (good example?) Estonia is a great case study South Korea gathers a lot of data about citizens (biometrical data under data protection law, which sets forth good, updated and specific standards for protection) - European databases Discrimination is built into the system Obstacles to question that logic: documents are not reliable, they get lost, etc. Difficulties of verifying information (even with the collection of fingerprints) Refugees: before entering the EU, information is collected - Strategy to define biometrical information as not sensitive information: citizens can give consent to have it collected and used: what could be done? Push for people to feel more comfortable; it is more difficult to argue against the private sector - India: challenge of making people realize biometrical information should not be required to let them be recognizable in the system ("this is who we think you are because you say so")

Next Steps

Additional Notes

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