Biometric identification that goes beyond fingerprints

The rapid rollout of biometric ID systems holds some promise. Hundreds of millions of people lack formal identification, and that’s an obstacle to participating in society. Without ID, it’s hard to vote, register land or get a bank account, let alone a loan. States, meanwhile, have a hard time collecting the taxes of undocumented citizens. Those are all reasons that India’s Universal ID program, which has scanned the irises of 450 million unregistered citizens, has won so many plaudits.


Biometrics are a different story in the developed world. In the United States, Europe and other regions, the worry is not that the state doesn’t know who you are, but that it knows too well — like Big Brother. Critics of biometric programs argue that important questions haven’t been resolved.

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