WORLD FUTURE FUND
BIOMETRIC NATIONAL ID CARDS
THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE
Biometric national ID cards are already in use in some nations. They are a vital solution to ID fraud, terrorism and disease.
In our view it is only a matter of time before they are used on a massive scale. The catalyst will probably a major terrorist attack.
Biometrics refers to distinctive, biological traits that can used to identify a person. This includes fingerprints, palm veins, face recognition, DNA, palm prints, hand geometry, iris recognition, retina scans and even a person's odor. We believe that one day, most major world governments will have national, biometric ID cards for all of their citizens. After all, biometrics are an incredibly effective way to prove the true identity of individual users. Using biometrics is also extremely difficult to fake. It's one thing to get a person's social security number and birth-date. Mimicking their retinal scans and thumbprints is a whole other matter. We believe it is only a matter of time before the right technology and funding makes this possible on a national level.
Yet right now, such a thing is not fully implemented yet. And there are a few barriers to this being implemented on a national level in the United States. The two major barriers are cost and privacy concerns.
According to a report by the The Century Foundation, the cost of implementing a biometric, national ID card would be in the billions. In this, they are specifically talking about a national identification card that would have a chip, a chip containing a person's finger prints or retinal scans. In this report, they state that the Social Security Administration has estimated the cost of creating counterfeit-resistant social security cards would be $4 billion. The ACLU stated that the cost of such a system would be $9 billion. The costs of a national system would include paying for card readers, staff, overhead, and more or less, a whole new bureaucracy to administer the system.
However, a report from Berkeley School of Law puts the cost of implementation at $40 billion up front, with ongoing maintenance costs at $3 billion per year. And this is not even for a biometric ID card for all citizens, Berkley is talking about a biometric ID card for all employed citizens. If you look at the further details of their report, they break down the cost of this $40 billion by cost to the government and employers.
While these are merely estimates, and there is presently no exact price tag for how expensive such a system could be, it is certain that it would be quite an expensive process, with a price tag in the billions.
So is such a system worth it? The Washington Post makes the point that the United States government has already invested tens of billions of dollars in the past decade alone to foil illegal immigration — tightening the border, accelerating deportations, deputizing local police — while doing precious little to actually stop employers from hiring undocumented workers. Much of the discussion about illegal immigration has also ignored the fact that a large number of unauthorized residents are people who have overstayed their visas, so border security doesn't really do much to stop these people.
This Washington Post article makes the point that for anyone who is serious about improving national security and controlling illegal immigration, the only realistic solution is the implementation of a national, biometric ID card. Such a solution was discussed by Former President Obama and a bipartisan group of eight senators.
So you could make the argument that, yes, a biometric national ID card would be expensive. But we are already paying billions for less effective immigration and security measures. Biometrics is a field that is experiencing exploding growth in the commercial industry, and other countries around the world are beginning to move in this direction as well. While the costs are holding the government back for now, we believe that this is a process that will be inevitable.
The Debate Over the National ID Card (The Century Foundation)
COUNTRIES MOVING TOWARD BIOMETRICS
Mandatory nationwide identification systems have been implemented in a number of countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Peru and Spain. Many countries are also now modernizing their ID databases to include biometric identifiers that authenticate or verify identity based on physical and biological characteristics. Read here to see a list of countries moving toward biometrics and what each country is doing.
India is collecting biometric data from over one billion residents to issue them each a unique identification number. So far, they have registered over 1.1 billion people. Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands – they just enrolled over one hundred million people into a new identity system in less than a year. Ghana just broke a world record by biometrically registering and verifying 13 million people in just 48 hours.
In 2009, the Israeli government enacted the "Inclusion of Biometric Means of Identification in Identity Documents and in an Information Database Law.” This law called for all residents to eventually have a biometric ID card. But right now the law is currently in its trial period, during which enrollment is optional.
A number of countries (including the United States since 2005) have started issuing biometric passports. But there is still much progress to be made before biometric ID cards are implemented on the national level.
The Biometric ID Grid: A Country-by-Country Guide (The Corbett Report)
99% of Indians over 18 now have Aadhaar cards (Times of India)
Biometric IDs in Israel (NBN)
Countries Applying Biometrics (Wikipedia)
BIOMETRIC COMPANIES AND COMMERCIAL USES
Biometric security as a field is currently experiencing a sharp growth curve. One example of the rising use of the technology is the fact that so many mobile users have become comfortable using tools like fingerprint identification for access. Here's a look at some of the market projections. According to these projections, despite setbacks, the global biometric market is expected to grow from 10 billion USD in 2016 to 41 billion USD by 2025.
Juniper Research, in a 2015 report, says that more than 770 million biometric authentication applications will be downloaded each year by 2019. The report cites Apple’s combination of its Touch ID authentication to tokenization in NFC payments as an example of high profile adoptions of biometrics.
Another report, by Acuity Market Intelligence, forecasts that rising demand for smartphones, tablets and wearable mobile devices that incorporate biometrics will drive a global market of 2.5 billion users with nearly 4.8 billion biometric devices by 2020. Acuity says within three years, biometrics will become a standard feature on smartphones as well as other mobile devices.
Top 10 Mobile Biometric Companies (Tech Navio)
Biometric Security is on the Rise (CSO online)
Securing America's Future Act of 2018
The "Securing America's Future Act," introduced in 2018, addresses the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as well as many other aspects of immigration. It is a sweeping bill that entails everything from education, the workforce, homeland security and the military. Included in the bill are details about a new biometric National ID card.
Securing America’s Future Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the House Immigration Bill (The Heritage Foundation)
The Legal Workforce Act 2015
The "Legal Workforce Act" (H.R. 1147), introduced in 2015, is a piece of legislation that has called for a national ID card for every American worker. It is aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining jobs in the United States. An element highlighted by critics, though, is that the bill would purport to mandate a national ID card for every American as a condition of working. It would require every employer in the United States to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system (EEVS) to verify employees. The EEVS would be based on the E-Verify system, and would replace the current I-9 form system which is paper-based and voluntary. The bill would allow employers to make a job offer only after a final verification has been granted by the EEVS.
Here is an analysis of the bill from the Center of Immigration Studies.
NATIONAL ID CARDS
The Case for a National ID Card (The Washington Post)
Get Ready for the U.S. National ID Card (Computer World)
MORE ON BIOMETRICS
Advances in Biometrics: Sensors, Algorithms and Systems (Google Books)
The Global Rise Of Biometric ID Cards (Investment Watch)
Mandatory National IDs and Biometric Databases (Electronic Frontier Foundation)